Brexit: Boris Johnson warned he risks EU sanctions with assault on Human Rights Act


The UK is risking sanctions from the EU if Boris Johnson pursues his expected assault on the Human Rights Act, a Brexit legal expert is warning.

The Queen’s Speech is expected to include a Bill to water down the landmark 1998 legislation, a shake-up that has prompted accusations of racism in in its removal of key safeguards.

But it is also expected to remove the need for UK courts to follow decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which would trigger a new clash with Brussels.

In the post-Brexit deal, the EU was seen as securing a victory in “locking-in” the UK’s future commitment to the ECHR – with the ability to re-examine security cooperation if that is flouted.

“If the Bill goes as far as has been trailed, which is to say that UK courts don’t need to follow decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, that is serious,” said Catherine Barnard, deputy director of the UK in a Changing Europe think-tank.

“It shows serious non-commitment to our obligations under that particular treaty – and it is worth bearing I mind that these are [Brexit] treaty obligations as well.”

The UK would not have to pull out of the ECHR – an option floated, but ruled out by the justice secretary Dominic Raab – to risk retaliation, Ms Barnard told an event.

The Christmas 2020 trade and cooperation agreement has left the sharing of vital crime and terrorism-fighting data with the EU “slower and more clunky”, a former national security adviser has warned.

However, it did confound the worst fears by allowing the exchange of fingerprints, DNA and vehicle registration data to continue.

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