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The EU needs to back off

Home Secretary Priti Patel
Home Secretary Priti Patel Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS 

The EU’s demand that Britain remains signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and by implication retain the Human Rights Act, is yet another sign of Brussels’ deluded overreach. We are negotiating a trade agreement here, not locking ourselves into international legal institutions, and the suggestion that the UK can’t be trusted to uphold human rights on its own is insulting and historically illiterate. Of course, the ECHR is not part of the EU, but the public believes that Brexit means legal independence.

We do not require European judges, be they in Luxembourg or in Strasbourg, telling us how to manage our affairs. It was Britain that invented charters of rights with Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights of 1688. We will be perfectly able to draw up a new British bill of rights if that is what the Government would like to do. Nobody is asking the US to sign up to the ECHR, or Australia or Japan.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe Tories are said to be split on this issue: Priti Patel has previously been critical of an existing human rights regime that has been open to manipulation and abuse. This is just one of many reasons why she was the right choice for Home Secretary. She understands that genuine, root-and-branch reform of justice is necessary to fix a broken system.

Ms Patel has an extraordinary list of things that need to get done in the next year, including a radical reform of immigration, and to accomplish this, the whole of the Home Office has to be moving at speed and in the same direction. Unfortunately, Whitehall is bitterly resistant to change. After so many years of running things behind the scenes, it has come to regard itself as a semi-constitutional check on the executive. That needs to change.