No ‘immediate risk to leaving ECHR’, Dominic Raab says as row over Immigration Bill rumbles on

Dominic Raab has admitted there is no immediate threat to leaving the European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR) despite backbench pressure to pull out of the international agreement.

Speaking to the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday, the Justice Secretary said the Government wants to remain a member of the ECHR amid fears the new Immigration Bill violates the international convention.

“We committed to remaining a state party,” Mr Raab said.

“So I don’t think there is any risk in the short to medium term, and indeed, we have reaffirmed our commitment to the ECHR.

“It is true that we cannot rule out forever and a day, and that we might need to revisit our membership but there are lots of steps that will need to be taken before then.”

Introducing the Immigration Bill in Parliament, Suella Braverman, Home Secretary said she was “unable” to confirm if the legislation is “compatible” with the ECHR.

Under the new legislation, people who arrive in the UK illegally will be detained and removed within weeks of arrival.

Experts have warned that due to the ECHR, the Government could face challenges in its pursuit to deport those who have crossed the Channel.

Due to this, Tory backbench MPs have called for the Government to leave the convention which the UK helped establish in 1950.

Former Levelling Up Secretary, Simon Clarke said: “If the new immigration bill either falls short or is derailed by legal challenges, we need to leave the ECHR.

“It was never intended to enable illegal migrant crossings numbering in the tens of thousands and it is sophistry to pretend otherwise.”

Tory MP Nick Fletcher said people in his Don Valley constituency have “welcomed people from all around the world” but they “also realise now that we are full”.

In 2022, a record 45,755 migrants arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel. More than 3,000 have made the journey so far this year.

In contrast, however, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said.

“The legislation, if passed, would amount to an asylum ban – extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the United Kingdom for those who arrive irregularly, no matter how genuine and compelling their claim may be.

Adding: “This would be a clear breach of the refugee convention and would undermine a longstanding, humanitarian tradition of which the British people are rightly proud.”

EU partners have also warned that any violation of the ECHR would lead to the termination of the policing and security agreements within the Brexit deal struck with Brussels.

Article 524 of the Brexit deal states, the “longstanding respect for democracy, the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals, including as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the European Convention on Human Rights”.

An immediate termination can be introduced on the day either party leaves the ECHR.

The Immigration Bill had its second reading on March 13 where it was passed 312 to 250 although it is expected to face more opposition at Committee stage.