‘Utterly catastrophic’: European Movement likens a UK departure from ECHR to ‘Brexit 2.0’

The Winston Churchill-founded movement which campaigns to undo the damage of Brexit and see the UK return to its ‘rightful place in the heart of Europe,’ said the possible departure of the UK from the ECHR would be ‘utterly catastrophic.’

Hard-right Tories have long wanted the UK to be out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). As the fallout about the controversial Rwanda policy rumbles on, opposition towards the UK’s place in the ECHR has moved up a gear, in a bid to get flights to the Central African country off the ground.

The European Movement UK, which was founded by Winston Churchill in 1949 to promote European unity and has subsequently worked to build a closer relationship with Europe and now campaigns to ‘undo the damage of Brexit,’ has warned that a UK ECHR departure would be akin to Brexit 2.0. The UK’s largest pro-European movement is calling on Rishi Sunak to commit to protecting Britain’s membership of the court.  

Sir Nick Harvey, the organisation’s CEO, said that while the UK government’s Rwanda policy is concerning in itself, the possible departure of the UK from the ECHR would be ‘utterly catastrophic.’

“In terms of the impact it would have on our human rights and justice system, the departure would be an event on a scale akin to Brexit 2.0.”

Harvey informed how the only countries in Europe that don’t belong to the ECHR are Russia and Belarus. He continued how since Britain became a member of the ECHR, the court has intervened 466 times to uphold human rights against the government.

“The ECHR ended the ban on gay people serving in the armed forces. The ECHR forced law change so that DNA records of innocent people are destroyed. The ECHR ensured that victims of domestic abuse gained exemption from the “bedroom tax”.

“The impact of our membership of the ECHR reaches beyond a singular immigration policy and must be protected at all costs.

The European Movement’s CEO said that Rishi Sunak must make an explicit commitment to protecting the UK’s membership.

“This is an issue far greater than infighting amongst a small and unrepresentative group of politicians.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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