BETWEEN the 7th and 10th of May 1948, a hugely important meeting took place at The Hague. It was attended by many wartime leaders including Winston Churchill who, although not Prime Minister at this time was still seen as a significant figure on the continent.

The meeting took place in the shadow of the human rights abuses and atrocities that had been committed by the Gestapo across Europe during the war years.

Those who were there were determined to put in place a set of values that all countries should follow in the years to come. The fruits of their labours led to the creation of the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK was an enthusiastic signatory to its ideals.

Yet here we are just over 70 years since that historic meeting took place and there is talk of the UK leaving that convention. Nothing would illustrate Boris Johnson’s distance from his alleged hero, Winston Churchill, than if he were to take that course of action.

Only one country has ever left the convention and that is Russia. Incredible though it may seem, there are some in the British parliament who think that Russia did the right thing by pulling out of a structure that has guaranteed people's freedoms and rights for decades across this continent. That's how warped some have become in their hatred of all things European.

Dominic Raab will claim that he has no desire to remove Britain from the convention. It would certainly be cataclysmic for Britain and would drive of a large hole through the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

READ MORE: UK Government plans would 'substantially weaken' human rights

Convention membership is an essential part of that agreement, and it would look very odd for a government that claims to be protecting the Agreement over the Northern Ireland Protocol to then destroy it by pulling out of the Convention.

There is a great deal of myth peddled amongst some on the Conservative benches that the UK doesn't need any imposition of European human rights because it is already a country that has a history or freedom.

However, Britain has a history of ordinary people in this country having had to fight tooth and nail to win their rights against a ruling class that did not want to share power.  

Look at the Peterloo Massacre or the treatment of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Look at the battles over the 1832 and 1868 Reform Acts. Look at the struggle to obtain votes for women.

In a country that has a parliament which claims for itself the right to do anything, there are no rights beyond those that parliament allows people to have. When you add into the mix the fact that the government is drawn from a parliamentary majority that only has the support of a minority of electors, then Britain starts to look less like a country bound by the Rule of Law.

UK government ministers will continue to rail about European judgments affecting British courts. 

Yet the UK is a signatory to many treaties where it agrees to be bound by the provisions of those treaties. Are they saying that the UK should pull out of them all and become a wholly unreliable partner across the world?

Let's also be frank, their complaint is not that European judges are able to constrain what ministers do but that any judges should be able to do so, such is their arrogance.

Witness the way they used their proxies in the right-wing press to attack the Court of Appeal over the issue of prorogation. The judges who took the decision were described as the enemies of the people because they acted as judges rather than doing the bidding of politicians. It's not that they don't like being told what to do by Europe, they don't like being told what to do by anybody.

Ministers have always been bound by law and their decisions have always been the subject of judicial review.  


At a time when we have a UK government that is determined to drive a coach and horses through the conventions that have held the UK constitution together over centuries, it is worrying that they now want to change the law to help themselves evade it.

Britain is beginning to look more and more like a kind of rogue state. The Prime Minister can break the law with impunity without consequence. Ministers, when challenged, want to remove the source of that challenge. The state wants to pick and choose what parts of international agreements it wants to abide by and those it wants to ditch.

All this gives the impression to the world of the UK slowly falling apart and cannot be relied on to keep its word.

As someone who valued moral standards in government and was at heart a pan-European and internationalist, Winston Churchill would simply not have recognised the current Conservative Party.

How ironic it is that those on the right who venerate his memory would these days simply have labelled him a “Remoaner”.

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