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Brexit and the incorporation of the EU Charter into UK law

Author(s):
Tommy Sheppard, Kate Osamor, Joanna Cherry
Publication year:
2019
Publication month:
February
Publication day:
13
Although human rights in the UK have been debated on numerous occasions since the 2016 referendum, this new debatedabte was introduced for three reasons: 1. The UK has moved on the Brexit process 2. Then Prime Minister’s record (Ms May) casted doubts as to her commitments to protect human rights 3. Then Conservative party’s manisfesto pledged that the Human Rights Act would not be reappelead while Brexit was underway. The debate focused mainly on the ECtHR and the UK but some members of parliaments mentioned the EU Charter to highlight concerns about its loss after Brexit, specifically in respect of the rights of older people (Rachel Maskell), or more generally (Joanna Cherry, Kate Osamor). Quote: Tommy Sheppard: ‘One problem is that we are talking about something that, to some extent, has already happened. Last summer, in debates on the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the Government were keen to ensure that the EU charter of fundamental rights would not be included in British legislation, despite opposition from my party and many others. Their case was that including the charter would be unnecessary duplication, since all the individual rights in it were replicated elsewhere. That was not quite true—some rights in the charter are not in the ECHR—but, in any case, it missed the main point: the charter’s purpose was not just to define people’s rights, but to create obligations on EU member states regarding how t Kate Osamor: ‘Does the Minister recognise the limitations of the Human Rights Act without the protections of the EU charter of fundamental rights, and can he explain how his party’s Government are preserving those rights before the UK leaves the EU?hose rights would be upheld and, in particular, to assert their primacy over other legislation.’ Joanna Cherry: ‘That charter protected a wide-ranging list of fundamental rights and principles, covering certain social and citizens’ rights, and going considerably further than the ECHR. The UK Government have tried to argue that the charter did not add anything to the corpus of UK law, but that is demonstrably false, even going by the UK Government’s own right-by-right analysis from 2017. That highlights how limited UK domestic protections are in certain key areas. That is not just my view; it was echoed by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, of which I am a member.’