Successive governments have conducted a ‘very effective spin project’ to imply human rights protection is just for terrorists and sex offenders, Director of Liberty Martha Spurrier says in this video from the launch of Britain in Europe's new human rights awareness programme (Knowing our Rights), at the Britain in Europe think tank.
Spurrier argues that by committing to repeal the Human Rights Act, the Prime Minister is intent on creating a “two-tier human rights system”, where British-born citizens are provided a better standard of protection than foreign-born citizens.
She also emphasises that a replacement British Bill of Rights will dilute protection for everyone, stating that anyone who believes otherwise is “very, very, naïve”.
May is against the European Convention on Human Rights overall and is the first PM to openly argue that we should leave the Convention, Spurrier explains.
“I don’t think you can really underestimate how serious that is. We have never had a Prime Minister who has criticised the Convention. We’ve had plenty of people talk about whether the Human Rights Act could be improved…
“But to go even further and say that actually we should pull out of that post World War II settlement which is the European Convention on Human Rights… that’s a very radical departure from previous policy. We don’t think that’s a departure that’s supported by the Conservative party and we think it will be incredibly controversial if it goes into the  manifesto. That’s the next big fight I think.”
It is a policy generated by May’s time as Home Secretary, explained Spurrier, where issues of immigration and deportation struggles – particularly that of radical cleric Abu Qatada – “dogged” her time in office. “She is determined to get her own back, effectively,” Spurrier added. “It really stuck in her craw… As a result she’s intent on weakening rights protections, particularly for minority groups.”
Offering her support for ‘Knowing our Rights’, she says: “Awareness-raising about human rights is essential, and [the Knowing our Rights] project is really, really important, particularly in times like these."