Yesterday, Theresa May announced that the Conservatives would pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) in their next election manifesto. This has popular support mainly because of one high-profile recent case, in which the deportation of Abu Qatada, a suspected terrorist, was delayed due to concerns about the use of torture in Jordan. This caused huge embarrassment for May (already red-faced after the cat debacle of 2011). But scrapping the HRA could be a disastrous response.
The HRA is the vehicle through which the European Convention on Human Rights is incorporated into British law. Opposition to it is grounded in the idea that it reduces our sovereignty—the British government was unable to deport Qatada, for example, because this action was blocked by the European Court. The Conservatives would take us out of the European Convention and replace the HRA with a British Bill of Rights.
To begin with, it is not clear how the Bill of Rights would differ from the HRA…
… To continue reading click here to visit the Prospect website. Originally published 1 October 2013.