Despite statements to the contrary from the Attorney General, in an interview with ConservativeHome, justice secretary Chris Grayling today raised the possiblity of Britain leaving the ECHR.
He said of the prospect of Britain quitting membership of the European Convention on Human Rights:
“I’m not ruling it in or ruling it out at this stage.”
Grayling was questioned on this because of his previous positioning, wanting reform to the power of interpretation of judges.
The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, has said in the House of Commons Britain “strongly supports” the convention. Grayling, however, has different ideas, believing the next election provides the Conservatives with an opportunity to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the courts that uphold the convention.
This statement comes from a man who has gone out of his way to show himself as a “tough” justice secretary and describes himself as a “right-wing member of the cabinet”.
Among the rights guaranteed by the convention are the right to life, right to liberty and security, prohibition of torture and prohibition of slavery.
It is likely any move to leave the convention itself would result in mass Lib Dem protest, further straining the coalition.
Chris Grayling’s comments are a manifestation of the Tory party’s ideological fascination with British sovereignty, and is part of a wider picture in which the Conservatives wish to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights, heightening concern as to the true extent of the party’s commitment to human rights.