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Justice Secretary Says Controversial New Bill Of Rights Will Guarantee "Parliament Has The Last Word"

3 min read

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has said it is a “sensible approach” for government to introduce powers that will enable the UK to override the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Speaking on Sky News this morning, the Deputy Prime Minister commented that “Parliament has the last word on the law of the land” and therefore should be able to push back on legal rulings from Strasbourg where they believe judgments are wrong.

Raab’s intervention comes as the ECHR recently prevented a government-chartered flight destined for Rwanda from taking off.

The flight was supposed to be the first of a series relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda under the Home Office’s flagship New Plan for Immigration.

UK courts ruled that the £500,000 flight could go ahead, but a last-minute intervention from Strasbourg courts prevented take off.

In response, Downing Street will today outline plans for a new Bill of Rights, which will reduce the influence of the ECHR going forward while maintaining the UK’s status as a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The convention has been enshrined in UK domestic law through the Human Rights Act (HRA).

“I don’t think it’s right as a matter of law in this country that Strasbourg can override the ruling of the UK High Court and Court of Appeal and we’ll be explicit about that in the new Bill of Rights,” Raab told LBC.

“No one is talking about tearing up human rights in this country, we’re staying within the European Convention,” he added.

“We’re going to reinforce those quintessentially British rights like free speech, but I do think when it comes to public protection, people want to see a dose of common sense and balance provided and that’s what our reforms will achieve.”

This month human rights experts accused Tory MPs supportive of Raab’s plan of pushing a “political narrative” with their claims that reforming the HRA will help tackle illegal immigration.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) told PoliticsHome that some MPs have wrongly conflated migrants crossing the Channel with failed asylum seekers and foreign criminals, all while calling for a new British Bill of Rights.

 “I think that’s the sensible approach and of course the Strasbourg court, particularly under its current President, has talked a lot about the margin of appreciation for domestic institutions,” Raab said of the new Bill of Rights on Wednesday morning.

“If you get an adverse ruling against you of course they are binding, but what is also allowed within the margin of appreciation – where you feel that they are wrong – is to push back,” he added.

“It is a totally legitimate thing to press back and to avail ourselves of the margin of appreciation.”

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