Poll reveals overwhelming support for UK withdrawal from ECHR

Emily Thornberry slams Government over ECHR debate

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Flights to Rwanda carrying migrants have been blocked since June when a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judge intervened.

The UK has been a member of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) since 1951 – British judges are not automatically bound by rulings from the Strasbourg court but are required to take them into account.

On Monday, judges at London’s High Court ruled that the scheme, launched by former Home Secretary Priti Patel, was not in breach of the UN’s Refugee Convention or human rights laws, and deemed the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as lawful.

Now, a new poll of Express.co.uk readers has found widespread support in favour of the UK leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) altogether, which the UK remains a member of despite Brexit. 

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she is committed to executing the Rwanda deportation policy, with a hearing due to take place in January to deal with any appeal applications. She said: “We have always maintained that this policy is lawful and today the court has upheld this. I am committed to making this partnership work – my focus remains on moving ahead with the policy as soon as possible and we stand ready to defend against any further legal challenge.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed the ruling as a “common sense position”. He told broadcasters during a visit to Riga, Latvia: “We’ve always maintained that our Rwanda policy is lawful, and I’m pleased that was confirmed today.” His official spokesperson did not offer a timeframe for when flights would begin but added: “We want to go as quickly as possible.”

However, the Labour Party has branded the Government’s plan as “unworkable” and “unethical” while Alison Thewliss, the SNP’s home affairs spokesperson at Westminster criticised it as “deeply immoral”.

The UK helped to draft the ECHR and was one of the first to ratify it in 1951, before it came into force on September 3, 1953. The ECtHR is a separate legal system from the EU with  47 member states. The ECHR is viewed as controversial by some Brexiteers as its powers erode national sovereignty.

Ms Braverman and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab have both said that the Government may have to withdraw from the ECHR to successfully employ the Government’s migration plans. 

In a poll that ran from 9.30am on Thursday, December 15, to 4.30pm on Wednesday, December 21, Express.co.uk asked readers: “Should the UK withdraw from the ECHR?”

In total, 6,124 people responded with the vast majority, 95 percent (5,844 people), answering “yes” in favour of the UK withdrawing from the ECHR.

A further four percent (253 people) said “no”, while 27 people said they did not know either way.

Over one thousand comments were left below the accompanying article as readers debated the ECHR’s future role in the UK.

Many readers commented in support of the UK leaving the ECHR, with username LadyJayne writing “the sooner the better”.

Username Patriot4 said: “We must leave the ECHR immediately, with no strings attached, or get out clauses. The ECHR is a very, very big problem for Britain.”

Another, username Gerry Manderers, wrote: “Being that we were the ones that originally instituted what became the ECHR, I imagine we have a reasonable grasp on human rights and legal process, without having to be answerable to the Europeans!”

Likewise, username duncandisorderly said: “We are perfectly able to implement our own HR laws. We do not need, nor want, any adverse influence from anywhere else.”


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Meanwhile, username Colin Dundas said: “Leaving the ECHR is the best way forward for the UK to govern their rules and laws.”

Another, username Sterling77a said: “It is time the UK withdrew from the ECHR because it is no longer fit for purpose and has changed out of recognition from its founding principals.”

Username Flintstone added: “Outside organisations should not be able to overrule our courts.”

And username John Smith2 remarked: “I cannot understand why we are even part of it.”

However, other readers commented that the ECHR is beneficial to the UK and that it should not consider withdrawing from the international treaty.

Username Boby Jenkies said that the ECHR “gives us some protection” from Westminster, while username Highway said it “also protects us when we travel”. 

Username mathmagician said: “It would remove a safeguard that protects all our rights and allows us to share data with the mainland. We’re never leaving it.”

 The UK helped to draft the ECHR and was one of the first to ratify it in 1951, before it came into force on September 3, 1953. Many thought that when the UK left the EU, it also left the ECHR, but it remains a full member.

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