British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly walks on stage at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Britain, 01 October 2023. The conference runs from 01 - 04 October at Manchester Central. EPA-EFE/ADAM VAUGHAN


British Conservatives push to leave European Convention on Human Rights


Several voices in the UK Conservative Party are campaigning for the country to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The party is hosting its 2023 conference in Manchester from October 1-4.

During the meeting the New Conservatives, a parliamentary group of predominantly “red-wall” Conservative (Tory) MPs, are expected to push Right-wing proposals including Britain’s departure of the ECHR. The red wall is a term used in British politics to describe the UK Parliament constituencies in the Midlands and Northern England that historically supported the Labour Party.

The New Conservatives’ five pledges aim to form “the backbone of the next Conservative Party manifesto”.

The proposals are: “Replace Labour’s European rights and equalities laws with a new British framework for rights and freedoms. Cut taxes for families, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Reduce immigration by halving the number of visas awarded to migrant workers, foreign students and their families.

The last two aim to “stop students who fail their A-levels from getting taxpayer-funded loans to attend university, and invest in apprenticeships instead; and ban gender ideology in schools and ensure parents’ rights to oversee the sex education their children receive”.

The first pledge is somewhat carefully framed but in essence it entails the withdrawal from the ECHR as it is seen as an impediment to enacting strong measures against illegal migration.

According to recent polling, most UK voters support the idea of Britain withdrawing from Europe’s human rights treaty to facilitate the deportation of undocumented immigrants. According to the polls, 54 per cent of the British people support leaving the ECHR while 27 per cent oppose it. The rest replied they “don’t know”.

Some 86 per cent of self-identified Tory voters support “replacing the current European system of human rights laws” with “new British laws that protect rights like free speech but enable the Government to promptly deport illegal migrants”.

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, raised the prospect of Britain leaving the convention if it continued to hold up the UK’s Rwanda migrant deportation policy.

Other issues the New Conservatives want to make prominent are lower taxes and fighting what they see as a culture war. Gender ideology, according to the group, should be forbidden in schools and parents should have the right to monitor their children’s sex education.

Cutting taxes was also proposed by Liz Truss, the former British prime minister. She was warmly received by the Conservative audience.

Less well received was Steve Bray, a vocal anti-Brexit activist. Bray disrupted a meeting and was kicked out of the conference. He had been protesting outside the event before it started.