24 February 2017
The government has once again postponed its development of a British Bill of Rights, with Justice Secretary Liz Truss explaining the issue will be revisited after the UK leaves the EU.
Last year, the House of Lords’ EU Justice Committee dismissed the Bill as “unnecessary”, after a lengthy inquiry into the proposed content of the Bill showed up nothing of substance.
It appears from former Justice Secretary Michael Gove’s evidence to the Committee that the main aim of the Bill is to reaffirm to the populace that human rights are “fundamental British rights”. However, no significant changes would be made to the content of the Human Rights Act that it replaces. The Tories had already backed away from initial proposals to make it easier to deport foreign criminals.
So far it seems the British Bill of Rights, which has been repeatedly delayed since 2010, is something of a rebranding exercise designed to appeal to the section of the electorate that believes human rights are excessive. Indeed, in December, it was reported that May will campaign to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights for the General Election in 2020.
However, following the UK’s exit from the EU, human rights may be vulnerable to degradation, and for workers any change to the rights of trade unions, discrimination laws, and the right to privacy will be of particular concern.