Click here to complete our Survey about Human Rights after Brexit

The State of Play

Brexit: The European Union has granted Britain a six month extension which would see the UK leaving the Union on the 31st October, 2019. Whether you voted leave or remain, no one wants uncertainty when it comes to their human rights and the legal framework that protects them. IOHR are monitoring the process closely to provide a clear picture of what Brexit means for your rights.

IOHR are monitoring the situation closely to provide up-to-date information on how Brexit may affect your individual rights. IOHR TV will be seeking the opinions of the experts and we want to hear from bloggers to share your opinions and insights.

How will Brexit affect Human Rights?

26 June 2018, The EU Withdrawal Act became law legislating for almost all EU laws to be incorporated into domestic laws. However, this decidedly did not encapsulate the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. This Charter was key to supporting our domestic rights and the framework in which they are enshrined. UK ministers will have the powers to amend primary legislation without recourse to full parliamentary scrutiny under a new Repeal Bill. Fundamental laws like the Modern Slavery Act, the Equality Act, the Data protection Act, protection of the rights of the child, fair trial rights, refugee rights and academic freedom are all at risk.

There are many civil society groups engaged in the fight to ensure that all the protections we have in place today are not diluted when we leave the EU. The UK needs a robust Charter of Fundamental Rights and non discrimination laws that are transparent and cannot be tampered with by ministers.

Piers Gardner – Barrister, Monckton Chambers

What are the main areas of concern

Free Movement: One of the big areas of debate during the referendum was freedom of movement. The vote to leave will almost certainly mean that this right will be restricted under any deal. However, with more than a million British people living across Europe this brings up serious questions about their status post Brexit. While both Britain and the European Union have signified a willingness to cooperate on this issue, progress has been slow and a ‘no-deal’ outcome could have drastic implications on individuals rights.

Human Rights Law: The decision to not encapsulate the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is worrying. It is important to play close attention to changes in legislation going forwards as certain senior politicians have now been grumbling about the need to leave the Human Rights Convention for a full Brexit. Couple this with a desire from some to repeal the Human Rights Act and our enshrined rights are looking a little thin.

Security: There is no doubt that security across Europe benefits from information sharing and cooperation between countries. It is a human right for us to expect to be reasonably protected from harm and we need to ensure that this right is not dampened after Brexit. Despite this being of mutual benefit to the EU bloc and the UK, it has seemingly been a contentious issue in negotiations. IOHR will be keeping an eye on Britain’s relationship with Europol and our involvement in the Schengen Information System.

Data: We’re living in the world of big data. Companies know more and more about us than ever before. It is generally accepted that this data can be used to undermine democracy and our rights in the wrong hands. Most of our current laws on data protection are encapsulated within the EU charter or other forms of EU legislation. We have expressed a commitment to uphold the GDPR legislation enforced through EU law on our departure. However, this is a growing issue and will require continual updating to our own laws to keep our rights protected.

Latest News

The Extension: After late-night talks on the 10th April, the EU has granted the UK a six-month extension that will see us remain in the EU until the 31st October, 2019.

The “Cooper Bill”: A cross-party proposal was rushed through the Commons in just a single day before passing through the House of Lords with two changes. These changes allow MPs to tell Theresa May how long she should ask for Brexit to be delayed but do not allow them to dispute whatever date Brussels set.

May meets Corbyn: After another round of indicative votes failed to see any single Brexit outcome command a majority, Corbyn and May have met to discuss possible solutions. Cross-party talks between the Government and Labour are expected to continue into this week.

Going forward

IOHR are currently in the process of compiling a draft for legislative reforms post Brexit. We hope that this list can provide a starting place for strengthening individuals rights in the UK and will cover issues as far reaching as data to the environment.

When this list of IOHR’s calls to action is complete it will be published here on line as well as distributed to policy makers.

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