Government backs down on EU human rights to stave off Tory rebellion

Posted On: 
22nd November 2017

Ministers have been forced to back down on scrapping some EU human rights measures from UK law after fearing a Conservative rebellion.

Dominic Grieve had led the charge to retain the rights in UK law
PA Images

The Government had said they would ditch the so-called Francovich rules that allow individuals and companies to sue the state for breaching retained EU laws after Britain quits the EU.

However ministers have now vowed to work with backbencher Dominic Grieve over amendments he tabled on the issue, over fears they may lose the vote.

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The vow prompted Mr Grieve to ditch his bid for a vote last night as MPs continued to debate the committee stage of the withdrawal bill – which is set to transpose EU law into UK law following Brexit.

Solicitor general, Robert Buckland said ministers would work with the former attorney general to see how rights under the charter could be kept after Brexit – pledging its own amendment in the next stage of the bill.

And he said he recognised the “strength of views” from some of his colleagues.

“We’re listening, and we are prepared to look again at this issue to make sure that we are taking an approach that can command the support of this house,” Mr Buckland told MPs.

In a swipe at some of the more hard line pro-Brexit colleagues, Mr Grieve said the Government should appreciate that “on the whole, western democracies have tended in that time to develop the idea of rights” and that the issue “would not go away”.

“I know that for some members that appears to be anathema – it makes them choke over the cornflakes – but it is a development that I have always welcomed and that, it seems to me, has delivered substantial benefits for all members of our society, particularly the most vulnerable,” he said.

He added: “If we do not seek to act on it, the idea of a modern Conservative party starts to fray at the edges, and I do not wish my party to gain a reputation for ignoring these key issues.”