Boris Johnson’s government is once again putting through legislation that undermines our security and the freedoms we depend on. No 10 has set out to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) and replace it with a new “Bill of Rights”, which was introduced to Parliament today. 

The HRA was set up to ensure that international human rights law (under the European Convention on Human Rights or ECHR) applies adequately across the UK. It ensures that all public bodies protect people’s fundamental rights, creating avenues for legal challenge when it doesn’t. 

Think of the HRA like a fire-escape: You may not need it right now – you might even forget that it’s there – but when you need it, it can mean the difference between life and death. 

In this new bill’s policy paper, the government complains that the HRA is being used for “more and more purposes” – as if that’s a bad thing. They bemoan the “elastic” interpretations that draw from the HRA. It’s not just insincere – it’s incredibly dangerous. 

The interpretations of the HRA that the government is complaining about have saved lives – for many people, the HRA has been that legal fire-escape. It’s allowed people to challenge their doctor’s “do not resuscitate” orders; it’s protected women from abusers and helped them seek justice; it’s underpinned the Good Friday Agreement maintaining peace in Northern Ireland. 

The implications of repealing it are enormous. The Law Commission has stated that repeal will damage the rule of law, prevent access to justice, reduce or remove rights, damage the UK’s reputation internationally, and more. 

We know the real reason for the repeal and replacement of the HRA: This government wants to silence dissent, to reduce and remove ordinary people’s rights to hold the government accountable. 

Put simply: they want to continue implementing their rotten policies – like shipping asylum seekers to Rwanda, like denying justice to bereaved families after the pandemic, like undermining democracy and the rule of law – and silence anyone who dares say they’ve gone too far. 

This is the most rotten government that the British people have had to endure in generations. Boris Johnson and his cronies are not only ignorant of the problems ordinary people are facing, but they’re treating us with active hostility. It’s the behaviour of a tin-pot dictatorship. 

This will be a hard one to challenge, but it’s never been more important to fight against this rot at every turn. We won’t be silenced.

Open Britain

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