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Leaving the ECHR ‘not necessary,’ Cameron says

24 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron – Image Stefan Rousseau

Leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is not “necessary” to prevent small boat crossings, Lord David Cameron has said amid Tory divisions over the UK’s membership in the treaty.

But the Foreign Secretary appeared to concede a returns agreement with France to break up people-smuggling gangs is “simply not possible” because of “the situation we’re in”.

It comes as Rishi Sunak’s Bill aimed at blocking further setbacks to the UK Government’s controversial Rwanda deportation scheme passed through Parliament following months of wrangling between MPs and peers.

While the legislation is now poised to become law, ministers are braced for legal challenges to the plan and the judiciary has made 25 courtrooms available to deal with cases.


The Prime Minister previously hinted he would be willing to leave the ECHR if it prevented him from implementing his policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda.

But speaking to ITV’s Peston show, Lord Cameron said: “I don’t think it’s necessary to leave the ECHR, I don’t think that needs to happen to make this policy work.”

The Supreme Court ruled last year that the scheme, finding grounds for believing that migrants sent to Kigali would face a risk of ill treatment as a result of being returned to their country of origin.

Refoulement, forcing an asylum seeker to return to a nation where they are likely to face persecution, is prohibited by a number of international treaties, including not just the ECHR but the UN Refugee Convention, the UN Convention against Torture and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

These treaties have been given effect in UK domestic law by the Human Rights Act 1998, the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993, the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 and the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004.

On whether he would have pursued the policy while he was prime minister, he said: “We had a totally different situation because (we) could return people directly to France.

“Now, I’d love that situation to be the case again, that’s the most sensible thing. People land on a beach in Kent, you take them straight back to France, you therefore break the model of the people smugglers. That’s not available at the moment. It’s simply not possible.”

Asked whether this was because of Brexit, he said: “Because of the situation we’re in, because of the attitude of others and all the rest of it.”

Meanwhile, Home Secretary James Cleverly said the criticism of the Rwanda Bill from the ECHR, who he “values enormously”, is “out of step”.

“There is a real moral hazard in saying to a nation state government that it cannot manage its own borders, it cannot make decisions about who does or does not live in its own country,” he said while speaking at a think-tank in Rome.

“Because that undermines the integrity of the democratic process in which we live.”

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29 days ago

This government will remove everyone rights to appease the fascist elements in their party and assuage Sunaks immoral ego, they are already trying it (see Trudi Warner). So far the law that has been applied is mainly UK law, not lefty lawyers, not EU (as some call it), not foreign courts, it has been UK law. I would not accept Mr Cameron as the political giant and oracle he thinks he is. Sunak is desperate, he shut down NATO commander yesterday when Guardian journo asked the NATO chief a question Sunak did not like and he rolled out Corbyn. Sunak… Read more »

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
29 days ago

It’s a joke really, they wanted to take back control of our borders but can’t because of their beloved Brexit. It’s time Westminster cut the crap, opened up more safe routes for people coming into the country and operated a decently staff, well equipped immigration service to deal with them. All these gimmicks – like Rwanda and off shore boats have to be ditched.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
29 days ago

The very term ‘Leaving the ECHR’ is not only ‘not necessary’ but should never have been contemplated, uttered or ever written or heard. Just because it gets in the way of an unhinged, immoral and human rights abusing policy, they propose to eradicate all human rights for all citizens here. Drawbridge Break-it Britain has demonstrated its’ island mentality by telling all beyond it where to go and now it’s turning in on its’ own people in the creeping open prison it is creating.

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