Tories are using Brexit to get rid of human rights, warns Amnesty

From The National :

“AMNESTY International has warned that the government is selling off the human rights of British citizens in return for post-Brexit trade deals.

In the charity’s annual assessment of human rights around the world, launched today, the organisation say they fear the British public “don’t even know that their hard-won rights are under threat”.

They warn that the frenzied drive to secure new trade deals has seen UK ministers and officials “soft-pedalling” with regimes who have poor records.

Last month, China’s national newspaper The Global Times praised Theresa May for “resisting radical pressure at home” to raise concerns over the treatment of democracy protesters in Hong Kong in efforts to focus on trade and investment links with the world’s second-largest economy.

Liam Fox has previously talked of the UK’s “shared values” with Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines leader who has been responsible for thousands of deaths since he was elected.

Kate Nevens, Amnesty International’s Scotland Programme Director, said the group also had fears about the government’s planned repeal bill to transfer powers from Brussels to London.

“We must move on from the discussion about being pro or anti-Brexit; without reform the EU Withdrawal Bill could drastically reduce the rights of people living in Scotland.

“Under cover of Brexit, the UK Government is planning to strip everyone in the country of their fundamental protections. Most people are not aware of the serious threat to their hard-won rights.

“On Monday, research was published showing strong levels of support for human rights in Scotland, with 42 percent of the country found to be broadly supportive of human rights. We want to ensure that Brexit does not lead to a roll back of our basic rights and protections.”

SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, who convenes Holyrood’s Human Rights Committee, agreed.

“This latest warning about the dangerous consequences of Brexit is hardly surprising – the Tories and Theresa May have been attacking our human rights for years with their long-standing plans to scrap the Human Rights Act,” she explained.

Meanwhile, there was confusion yesterday over the Tory position on the transition period after Brexit.

The government published their draft proposals for what should happen between the official Brexit day of March 31 2019, and the time when the UK properly leaves the EU.

There has been broad agreement that the UK will accept existing rules and regulations of the EU for a period, effectively remaining in the single market and customs union.

But the document came after a damaging day when May was harangued by the right of her party, who, effectively argued that she should ditch and implementation period.

The document however, showed, that May had capitulated to the EU rather than her own backbenchers.

One of the most contentious issues is over the transition period dates.

The EU have been firm that the transition period should end on December 31 2020, some 21 months after Brexit day.

EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, argues that this is the most practical end date as it when the current seven year budget agreement ends.

UK officials want some flexibility.

In their offer, the British government writes: “The UK believes the period’s duration should be determined simply by how long it will take to prepare and implement the new processes and new systems that will underpin the future relationship.

“The UK agrees this points to a period of around two years, but wishes to discuss with the EU the assessment that supports its proposed end date”.

The problem with that flexibility is that Tory backbenchers believe it means the UK could stay in the single market, the customs union, forced to accept EU laws, without having any say, indefinitely.

London are also arguing that the EU should allow the UK to rewrite the fishing quotas in the common fisheries policy – a proposal almost certain to be rejected by Brussels.

The UK say they also have concerns about being forced to take on any new laws coming into force during the transition period, and have asked for a legal mechanism that would allow them to be ignored in the UK.

Meanwhile, May met with Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister. He said the UK still needs to “offer more clarity about where it wants to go”.

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