Good morning. Today’s newsletter was meant to be about the knots Labour has been tying itself in over whether to support the rail strikes, but then the Conservatives did something even more on-brand. A week after the European court of human rights (ECHR) drew an outcry from the right by blocking the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda, Dominic Raab has announced plans to create a new bill of rights that will say the UK can ignore those rulings in the future.
New legislation will be introduced to parliament today that effectively abolishes the Human Rights Act (which institutes the ECHR’s authority in the UK). It’s been in the works a long time – but, Haroon Siddique reports this morning, a senior government source acknowledges that the Rwanda story “reinforced and strengthened the case for what we’re doing”.
But this is more than an example of government by press release: the plans look like they extend rights for the media, and reduce them for just about everybody else. The president of the Law Society says that the legislation will “create an acceptable class of human rights abuses in the United Kingdom”. After the headlines, today’s newsletter will explain how.
Five big stories
Strikes | The first day of the biggest rail strikes in decades gave much of Great Britain a reminder of lockdown as millions avoided public transport, worked from home or took to their cars. National rail services will start later in the day and with reduced schedules on Wednesday. Labour | Keir Starmer is expected to discipline at least five Labour frontbenchers who defied his orders and appeared on RMT picket lines to show solidarity with striking rail workers. Crime | A former soldier who murdered his neighbours with a commando dagger after a dispute over parking has been told he will serve at least 38 years in prison before being considered for parole. Ukraine | The military situation for Ukraine’s defenders in the eastern Donbas is “extremely difficult”, the governor of the Luhansk region has said, as Russian attacks intensified in an effort to capture Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. Cost of living | Britain’s cost of living crisis is being made worse by Brexit dragging down the country’s growth potential and costing workers hundreds of pounds a year in lost pay, new research claims.
Strikes | The first day of the biggest rail strikes in decades gave much of Great Britain a reminder of lockdown as millions avoided public transport, worked from home or took to their cars. National rail services will start later in the day and with reduced schedules on Wednesday.
Labour | Keir Starmer is expected to discipline at least five Labour frontbenchers who defied his orders and appeared on RMT picket lines to show solidarity with striking rail workers.
Crime | A former soldier who murdered his neighbours with a commando dagger after a dispute over parking has been told he will serve at least 38 years in prison before being considered for parole.
Ukraine | The military situation for Ukraine’s defenders in the eastern Donbas is “extremely difficult”, the governor of the Luhansk region has said, as Russian attacks intensified in an effort to capture Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.
Cost of living | Britain’s cost of living crisis is being made worse by Brexit dragging down the country’s growth potential and costing workers hundreds of pounds a year in lost pay, new research claims.
In depth: Rights and wrongs
When Dominic Raab first set out his plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British bill of rights back in March, the focus of his interview with the Daily Mail was not the massive changes that might flow from the bill, but the damage being wrought to the media by cancel culture and “wokery”.
He’s likely to strike a different tone today – but other than a new front in the war on snowflakes, we won’t know exactly what will feature in the legislation until it is presented to MPs. But there’s a lot we can say based on the earlier consultation and the government’s briefing so far:
Why is it being introduced?
The Conservative party has had designs on a new British bill of rights for years. (Haroon Siddique’s explainer sets out some of this history.) But as recently as Boris Johnson’s 2019 manifesto, the government’s commitment was no firmer than a promise to “update the human rights act”. Then Raab took charge at the Ministry of Justice.
Supporters of the change view the European court of human rights (which interprets the convention for member states including the UK, and has nothing to do with the EU) as an unaccountable blight on British sovereignty and “common sense”. It may also not be a coincidence that the plans have finally blossomed at a time when the government seems highly focused on ways to show independence from Europe, and draw clear dividing lines with Labour.
What rights does it add?
If we exclude the possibility that the government is planning to give liberals a nice surprise with a bunch of new safeguards it has not trailed ahead of time, the answers are: the right to a jury trial; greater protection for the press against courts requiring the disclosure of sources; and, in general, a “greater weight in law” for the freedom of speech above the right to privacy. (The last of these appears to have been a response to a court defeat for the Mail on Sunday in a privacy case brought by the Duchess of Sussex. “Raab’s right on rights,” the Daily Mail says today.)
None of this required a new bill of rights to be put in place. “A lot of it seems to be about implying that the Human Rights Act is blocking things which it isn’t,” said Ellie Cumbo, head of public law at the Law Society.
“There is absolutely no need to repeal the Human Rights Act to do those things,” said Martha Spurrier, director of the civil rights advocacy group Liberty. “The right to jury trial? There already is one. But if you want to enshrine it, sure, go ahead, do a criminal justice bill.”
What rights does it limit or take away?
This list is a bit more extensive. Here are some of the most serious changes set out so far:
A harder test to claim the right to family life to avoid deportation. (Spurrier points out that whereas the government has claimed 70% of successful challenges to criminal deportation cases rely on this provision, that appears to be a typo: the true figure is 7.8%.)
Limits on cases where public bodies have a “positive obligation” to protect individuals’ rights. The example cited by the MOJ is “police forces having to notify gang members of threats towards them from other gangs”. Other cases relying on the rule that are significantly less convenient include those which allowed the Hillsborough families and the victims of John Worboys to find a measure of justice.
New rules instructing courts to consider a claimant’s past record before awarding them damages for human rights breaches – meaning that somebody with a chequered history could face significantly greater risk of harm from the authorities.
A new “permission stage” requiring claimants to show they have “suffered a significant disadvantage” to bring a case. “But it’s already the case that the courts strike out anything that’s trivial,” said Cumbo. “So it’s not a permission stage, it’s a new blocking stage, really. It basically says that it doesn’t matter if the claim is valid, or you have them bang to rights – the state can breach human rights law unless it’s really, really bad.”
And several other things besides, but this is meant to be a briefing, not a longing. “It’s basically as bad as we feared,” said Spurrier. “It’s been sold with this disingenuous claim that it’s about parliamentary sovereignty, but the truth is it’s about sidelining judicial and parliamentary scrutiny in favour of the executive being allowed to do what they want.”
How does it change the UK’s relationship with the European court?
For all the recent tub-thumping about supposed ECHR overreach on the Rwanda flight, the language being used around how the new legislation will interact with the UK’s international obligations is relatively constrained. The bill will simply “make clear” that UK courts can reject ECHR rulings – and the promised changes will be achieved while “retaining the UK’s fundamental commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights”.
That may be intended to soften the bill’s landing today: “It sounds like some of it may have been watered down because it wasn’t practical,” said Cumbo.
But Spurrier sets out a more troubling long-term prognosis, where the new bill sets up inevitable conflicts that cannot permanently be ignored.
“If you adopt legislation that is fundamentally weaker than what’s in the European convention, you’re in breach of your obligations,” she said. “There’s no immediate effect, but over time, as it happens repeatedly, you get sanctioned by the court. And the more it happens, the less diplomatic those sanctions become, and then you reach an impossible position.”
Could that ultimately lead to the UK joining Russia in expulsion? “I think that’s less likely than that they’re setting up this fight as a way to gain traction for the argument for leaving without saying it explicitly.”
What happens next?
With limited scope for pre-legislative scrutiny, the government’s first challenge is to get the legislation through the House of Commons. While the vigour of Labour’s opposition might be in doubt given recent evidence of timidity over “dividing line” issues, the party’s unified votes against plus those of some sceptical Tory backbenchers are enough to make the outcome not a foregone conclusion.
If it does pass, there is likely to be resistance in the House of Lords. Will that be enough to stop Raab’s plans? That’s doubtful – but only a vociferous, committed opposition will stand a chance.
What else we’ve been reading
Whether you’re going to Glastonbury or watching it on TV, smug in the thought of the public transport nightmare you avoided, consult Ben Beaumont-Thomas’ guide to the unmissable acts and get yourself in the mood. Archie
Heather Stewart’s analysis of Keir Starmer’s stance on his frontbenchers joining picket lines is not comfortable reading for the Labour leader. Three MPs from different wings of the party describe the ban as “imbecilic”, “pointless” and “dumb”. Archie
In this remarkable long read, based on more than 60 interviews, Isobel Thompson writes about how, over the course of a decade, Nottingham prison descended into crisis. Nimo
Stuart Jeffries had the enviable job of interviewing the UK’s longest-serving soap stars, who have survived minibus crashes, fraud sentences, cancer, a stroke, feuds, bereavements, child kidnapping … Archie
Even though yoga originates from India and has been practised by people around the world for millennia, in 21st-century Britain it is an industry dominated by white people. David Batty talks to the women of colour who are fighting to make yoga inclusive. Nimo
Football | Fifa has said it is reviewing its gender eligibility regulations after swimming governing body Fina voted to block transgender women from women’s competitions if they have experienced any part of male puberty.
Cricket | Ben Stokes must prove his fitness before the third Test against New Zealand, which starts on Thursday, after the England captain missed the first day of training at Headingley through illness.
Tennis | Serena Williams made her long-awaited return to competitive tennis with a doubles victory in Eastbourne. She has not competed for 51 weeks after a hamstring injury at last year’s Wimbledon.
The front pages
“Tory bill accused of ‘fatally weakening human rights” – the Guardian’s lead story in print today. The Financial Times has “Rail union resists as bosses offer 3% pay rise for 2,000 job cuts” while the i says “UK’s new strike breaking laws ‘won’t fix crisis’”. “Class war” says the Sun as “teachers threaten to strike too”. The Mirror presents it as a “Cost of living strike” and says it’s time to “Level up”, pointing out that “Network Rail chief Andrew Haines earns 20 TIMES the wage of train guard Dave King”. The Express has a wide shot of an empty platform and asks “Hatred of Boris … is this what it’s all about?” in reference to a “class war rant” by “union boss Mick Lynch”. The Times says the prime minister is “ready for strike stalemate to last months”. “Labour isn’t working” says the Daily Mail after some of its MPs joined picket lines. A solitary train on the tracks is across the Metro’s front which bears the headline “Ghost train Britain” but also “Gold age pensions”. The latter is explained further by the Telegraph: “Double-digit rise for state pension and benefits”.
Today in Focus
A tale of two byelections
After the resignations in disgrace of two Tory MPs, the Lib Dems and Labour are hoping to snatch victories in Thursday’s byelections. Are Boris Johnson’s voters ready to desert him?
Cartoon of the day | Martin Rowson
A bit of good news to remind you that the world’s not all bad
Japan has long had declining birth rates and a generation of people who seem to be less interested in long-term relationships. To make dating more fun, a matchmaking initiative in Miyazaki is encouraging people to write letters instead of swiping right on a dating app. Profile photos are forbidden, and applicants are paired up based on indicators of compatibility. In two years, the initiative has led to hundreds of letters being sent, 32 dates and 17 relationships.
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Bored at work?
The Bill of Rights Bill was introduced to parliament in June 2022. It repeals and replaces the Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporates and makes the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) domestically enforceable.Is the UK government trying to get rid of the Human Rights Act? ›
The Conservative Party has long wanted to reform the Human Rights Act. Their plans to scrap it were in their 2010 and 2015 party manifestos.What happens if we get rid of the Human Rights Act? ›
Tearing up the Human Rights Act would have “dire consequences” including removing obligations to properly address violence against women and girls and destabilising peace in Northern Ireland, more than 50 organisations have warned.What is the purpose of the Human Rights Act? ›
The Human Rights Act gives you legal protection of your human rights, such as your right to a fair trial. Each right is referred to as a separate article, for example, Article 2: Right to life. These rights come from the European Convention on Human Rights.What are the main points of the Human Rights Act 1998? ›
The Human Rights Act is a UK law passed in 1998. It lets you defend your rights in UK courts and compels public organisations – including the Government, police and local councils – to treat everyone equally, with fairness, dignity and respect.Has the Human Rights Act 1998 been repealed? ›
After failing to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) in the 2010-2015 Parliament whilst in coalition, the UK Conservative Government, now with a slim majority, is approaching the subject with renewed vigour.Can the government take away human rights? ›
A public authority can only interfere with a qualified right if it's allowed under the law. It must also show that it has a specific reason set out in the Human Rights Act for interfering with your rights.Is the Human Rights Act successful? ›
The Human Rights Act incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. It has had a positive impact on the enforcement and accessibility of rights in the UK. Cases are now heard by UK judges in UK courts rather than applicants having to take cases to Strasbourg.Why should we defend human rights? ›
Human rights are needed to protect and preserve every individual's humanity, to ensure that every individual can live a life of dignity and a life that is worthy of a human being.What human rights do we have? ›
freedom of expression. freedom of religion or conscience. freedom of assembly. freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and slavery.
Other rights protected under the Human Rights Act
Lists some of the rights protected under the Human Rights Act 1998, including rights to education, freedom of expression, non-discrimination and protection of property.
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.How does the Human Rights Act prevent discrimination? ›
The Human Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate on a wide range of grounds including 'sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status'.Why is the Human Rights Act important in social work? ›
This introduction to human rights has been developed to assist in promoting dignity in social care. The Human Rights Act (HRA) came into force in October 2000. It enables individuals to enforce 16 of the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in British courts.What is the Human Rights Act simplified? ›
The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to. It incorporates the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic British law. The Human Rights Act came into force in the UK in October 2000.What are the 5 key principles in the Human Rights Act? ›
These basic rights are based on shared values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence. These values are defined and protected by law.How can the Human Rights Act 1998 be repealed? ›
It is axiomatic that the HRA can be repealed by Act of Parliament. However, any attempt to repeal and/or replace it would need to take into account the devolution settlement.Who made the Human Rights Act? ›
The convention was drafted by the Council of Europe after World War II. Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe was the Chair of the Committee on Legal and Administrative Questions of the council's Consultative Assembly from 1949 to 1952, and oversaw the drafting of the European Convention on Human Rights.How does the Human Rights Act relate to equality? ›
The Act provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. It provides Britain with a discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.Can human rights be suspended? ›
The 1987 Constitution provides that the president may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus only “in case of invasion or rebellion” and “when the public safety requires it”. We need not point out that COVID-19 which plagues our nation is far from qualifying as an invasion or a rebellion.
Which means they can only be restricted in order to protect the rights of other people or if it's in the public interest for specific reasons such as the prevention of crime. For example, the Government may restrict the right to freedom of expression if a person is encouraging racial hatred.What age is a person considered a child? ›
Definitions of a child
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) defines a child as everyone under 18 unless, "under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier".
|Article 1||Right to Equality|
|Article 18||Freedom of Belief and Religion|
|Article 19||Freedom of Opinion and Information|
|Article 20||Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association|
|Article 21||Right to Participate in Government and in Free Elections|
The following four sections will cover, broadly speaking, the most studied causes of human rights violations identified by researchers and practitioners: (1) Government Behavior and Structure; (2) Armed Conflict; (3) Economic Factors; and (4) Psychological Factors.How many human rights are there in the world? ›
UDHR or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone achieved in the world of human rights.What are the advantages of the Human Rights Act? ›
A Human Rights Act would help to defend the rights of minority groups, such as children and young people, people with a disability or mental illness, or those at risk of homelessness. Human rights are only properly protected when we all can enjoy them – after all, human rights belong to everyone.How are human rights protected? ›
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, was the first legal document to set out the fundamental human rights to be universally protected. The UDHR, which turned 70 in 2018, continues to be the foundation of all international human rights law.How do you exercise your human rights? ›
- Speak up for what you care about. ...
- Volunteer or donate to a global organization. ...
- Choose fair trade & ethically made gifts. ...
- Listen to others' stories. ...
- Stay connected with social movements. ...
- Stand up against discrimination.
The United States values free speech as the most important human right, with the right to vote coming in third. Free speech is also highly valued in Germany: its citizens also see this as most important.What happens when human rights are not protected? ›
There is no rule of law within societies if human rights are not protected and vice versa; human rights cannot be protected in societies without a strong rule of law. The rule of law is the implementation mechanism for human rights, turning them from a principle into a reality.
Human rights cover virtually every area of human activity. They include civil and political rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom from torture. They also include economic and social rights, such as the rights to health and education.Who is responsible for protecting human rights? ›
The short answer to 'who protects our human rights? ' is: 'All of us. ' Whether it's the UN, our governments, public authorities, institutions, businesses, or each of us as individuals – we all have a role to play in understanding, respecting and defending human rights.Is water a human right? ›
Access to safe drinking water and sanitation are internationally recognized human rights, derived from the right to an adequate standard of living under Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.Are human rights legal rights? ›
Within the country's Constitution, Constitutional rights are guaranteed, while human rights are recognized internationally. Legal rights are distinctly specified by various governments and are not present in the Constitution.What are human rights explain its nature and characteristics in detail? ›
Human Rights are Inalienable - Human rights are conferred on an individual due to the very nature of his existence. They are inherent in all individuals irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, sex and nationality. Human rights are conferred to an individual even after his death.What is the meaning of human rights violation? ›
A human rights violation is the disallowance of the freedom of thought and movement to which all humans legally have a right. While individuals can violate these rights, the leadership or government of civilization most often belittles marginalized persons.What are the possible questions about human rights? ›
- What are human rights? ...
- How can I tell if what happened violates the Human Rights Code?
- How to tell if a negative effect relates to a protected trait?
- Does a single comment violate the Human Rights Code?
Bill of Rights. Chapter 2, Section 7-39.
|1 Section number||2 Section title||3 Extent to which the right is protected|
Article 2 of the Human Rights Act protects your right to life. This means that nobody, including the Government, can try to end your life.What is discrimination short answer? ›
Discrimination is the unfair or prejudicial treatment of people and groups based on characteristics such as race, gender, age or sexual orientation. That's the simple answer.
The Human Rights Act puts legal duties on public authorities to respect 16 basic human rights in their decisions and actions. This helps deliver better services and empowers women to make sure they are treated fairly.Is social work human rights work? ›
Social workers work with families and communities to improve their health and well-being within a human rights framework. The Code of Ethics also highlights human dignity and the pursuit of social justice as key values guiding the work of the profession.How does the Human Rights Act support safeguarding? ›
Through legal cases, the Human Rights Act has empowered children to: protect their right to privacy in receiving confidential advice and treatment about contraception and sexual health. make sure they are protected from abuse and harm when in trouble with the criminal justice system.What is the new Bill of Rights UK? ›
What is the Bill of Rights Bill? On 22 June 2022, the Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, published the Bill of Rights Bill. This would repeal and replace the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998, which gives effect in UK law to the rights and freedoms in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).What is the difference between Bill of Rights and human rights? ›
The universalists argue that human rights belong to all humans on account of their humanity rather than membership of narrower categories such as citizenship, ethnicity or class. Bills of rights on the other hand tend to exclude by definition non-citizens from their protections.Is there a bill of rights in the UK? ›
Bill of Rights Page 2
It is an original Act of the English Parliament and has been in the custody of Parliament since its creation. The Bill firmly established the principles of frequent parliaments, free elections and freedom of speech within Parliament – known today as Parliamentary Privilege.
A further key rights document in English history is the Bill of Rights of 1688. This document declared that the monarch had no power to dispense with the law without the consent of Parliament. Members of Parliament were to have freedom of speech within Parliament.What does the Bill of Rights do UK 2022? ›
Strengthens domestic institutions and the primacy of UK law. The Bill empowers UK courts to apply human rights in a UK context, affirming the Supreme Court's independence from the Strasbourg Court. The Bill makes explicit that the UK Supreme Court is the ultimate judicial arbiter.Who can change the Bill of Rights? ›
An amendment may be proposed by a two-thirds vote of both Houses of Congress, or, if two-thirds of the States request one, by a convention called for that purpose. The amendment must then be ratified by three-fourths of the State legislatures, or three-fourths of conventions called in each State for ratification.What human rights are in the Bill of Rights? ›
They begin with the basic rights to life, dignity, equality and privacy. But they also include the fundamental freedoms associated with democracy: freedom of expression, association, assembly, opinion, belief and religion, and movement.
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.Why is it important to protect human rights? ›
Human rights are needed to protect and preserve every individual's humanity, to ensure that every individual can live a life of dignity and a life that is worthy of a human being.How many human rights are there? ›
UDHR or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone achieved in the world of human rights.What is the Bill of Rights in simple terms? ›
The Bill of Rights is the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. It spells out Americans' rights in relation to their government. It guarantees civil rights and liberties to the individual—like freedom of speech, press, and religion.Is the Human Rights Act successful? ›
The Human Rights Act incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. It has had a positive impact on the enforcement and accessibility of rights in the UK. Cases are now heard by UK judges in UK courts rather than applicants having to take cases to Strasbourg.Is the Bill of Rights 1688 still valid? ›
The main principles of the Bill of Rights are still in force today - particularly being cited in legal cases – and was used as a model for the US Bill of Rights 1789. Its influence can also be seen in other documents establishing the rights of humans, such as the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.Who wrote the Bill of Rights? ›
The American Bill of Rights, inspired by Jefferson and drafted by James Madison, was adopted, and in 1791 the Constitution's first ten amendments became the law of the land.What is the English Bill of Rights and why is it important? ›
The English Bill of Rights created a constitutional monarchy in England, meaning the king or queen acts as head of state but his or her powers are limited by law. Under this system, the monarchy couldn't rule without the consent of Parliament, and the people were given individual rights.