Leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) would further destabilise an international system that was already “on the back foot”, a cabinet minister has said.
Development minister Andrew Mitchell said on Wednesday it was “incredibly unlikely” that the UK would leave the ECHR and warned strongly against doing so during an event at Chatham House in London.
“I don’t think there’s any question of Britain leaving the ECHR, the Prime Minister I think has made that pretty clear,” he said.
“I think that leaving the ECHR is incredibly unlikely to happen. It was built by British ministers and British lawyers after the Second World War. It is extremely important and you can imagine the effect of Britain withdrawing, what it would be on countries with malign intent who would also feel they could withdraw.
“It would be a huge thread pulled out of the international system which is already on the back foot … with catastrophic effect.”
His comments during an event at Chatham House in London came a day after the Government secured passage for its Illegal Migration Bill through the House of Commons, including new clauses that would limit the ability of the European Court of Human Rights to prevent the deportation of asylum seekers.
But some Conservative MPs would like the Government to go further and leave the ECHR entirely to make it easier to deport asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats.
Downing Street has so far not ruled out leaving the ECHR, and maintains the crossings can be stopped within the rules of the convention.
On the plans to tackle the crossings, Mr Mitchell added: “No democratic government can allow what is happening, people coming across in an unstructured and arbitrary way.
“No government can expect to get re-elected if it doesn’t tackle that problem.”
Mr Mitchell made his comments while answering questions after a speech in which he laid out a series of development policies and launched a new UK International Development brand.
Acknowledging that cutting aid spending had “damaged” Britain’s reputation, he said: “Britain is back.”