The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was drawn up by the member states of the Council of Europe following the Second World War to guarantee basic rights for anyone within their borders. All 47 member states are signatories. The convention contains numbered articles which outline protected basic human rights. The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated these rights into UK domestic law.
In 2016, Theresa May, then Home Secretary, said she believed the UK should leave the ECHR which she said “adds nothing to our prosperity”.
However, this manifesto pledge is to remain a signatory to the ECHR for the duration of this parliament.
Membership of the Council of Europe is distinct from European Union membership so it will not be affected by the UK leaving the EU, meaning the UK will remain a signatory of the ECHR unless an additional process is undertaken.
It’s worth noting that the government has not ruled out ceasing to be a signatory to the convention. In January 2019, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice wrote:
“…our manifesto committed to not repealing or replacing the Human Rights Act while the process of EU exit is underway. It is right that we wait until the process of leaving the EU concludes before considering the matter further…”
So things might change in future, but that is likely to be beyond this term of parliament. As this policy specifically outlines the time frame of “the duration of the next parliament”, we’ll have to wait before moving it to ‘done’. But currently the UK remains a signatory to the ECHR so this is certainly ‘in progress’. Follow this policy for updates.
Get the details
- European Convention on Human Rights – Council of Europe
- Human Rights Act 1998
- Theresa May: UK should quit European Convention on Human Rights – BBC News
- Letter: Political declaration references to the European Convention on Human Rights – Parliament.uk
- Patrick Stewart sketch: what has the ECHR ever done for us? – Guardian