Andrea Jenkyns, the Tory MP and Boris Johnson supporter known for sticking her middle finger up at a crowd outside Downing Street last year, has now called on the UK to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – claiming the “overwhelming majority” of Brits back her position.
Ms Jenkyns’s comments come after prime minister Rishi Sunak pushed for reform to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) which oversees the convention – particularly around the court’s ability to issue ‘interim measures’ under what’s known as Rule 39.
Back in June, this very rule was used to block migrants from being removed from the UK on the first – and failed - deportation flight to Rwanda, in what was a last-minute decision by the ECtHR.
Mr Sunak said on Monday: “It is very clear that our current international system is not working, and our communities and the world’s most vulnerable people are paying the price.
“We need to do more to cooperate across borders and across jurisdictions to end illegal migration and stop the boats.”
However, as much as the Conservative Party leader wanted to talk about reform at this week’s Council of Europe summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, the Nordic country’s foreign minister Thordis Gylfadottir trashed the plans.
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“The next two days, the time we have, we are not using to reform certain articles in the court,” he said.
These developments prompted Ms Jenkyns to release a video on Wednesday, in which she said any push to change the court is “futile” as “they ain’t gonna reform”.
“We don’t need to amend the convention, we need a British Bill of Rights, putting the power back in the British parliament and the British courts.
“We need to return sovereignty to Westminster, and not have these powers in the hands of European judges, serving the whims of Strasbourg and Brussels,” she said, concluding her message by saying it was time for the PM to “listen to the British people”.
Similar comments were made in her letter to Mr Sunak which she attached to the video, in which she wrote: “The overwhelming majority of British people do not want reform to the court, they want to withdraw from the convention altogether and see a British Bill of Rights introduced into domestic law.
“My constituents, alongside many millions in our nation, voted to end the jurisdiction of this foreign court.”
A Commmunity Note has already been added to the tweet pointing out that “millions voted to leave the EU” in 2016, and “the EU is not the same thing as the ECtHR”.
As for the ‘British Bill of Rights’ idea, well, that was introduced by Dominic Raab as justice secretary before he resigned after a report upheld two claims of bullying against him.
His successor, Alex Chalk, hasn’t committed to continuing work on the legislation (which wouldn’t take the UK out of the ECtHR, but would scrap the Human Rights Act which enshrines the ECHR into UK law), instead acknowledging that the Ministry of Justice has other “priorities” right now.
Now Twitter are wondering what evidence Ms Jenkyns has to back up her “overwhelming majority” claim:
\u201c@andreajenkyns @ConsPost Show me your mandate for withdrawing from the ECHR.\n\nShow me the campaign materials in the Brexit referendum saying we should withdraw from the ECHR.\n\nShow me any electoral justification you have of any kind that gives you cause to think that the British public voted to withdraw\u2026\u201d— Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7 (@Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7) 1684337390
\u201c@andreajenkyns @ConsPost It's not even the overwhelming majority of the comments\u201d— Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7 (@Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7) 1684337390
\u201c@andreajenkyns @ConsPost What part of the ECHR do you have a problem with? Freedom of speech? A private life? A fair trial? Right to vote? Right to strike? And don\u2019t expect a response as he\u2019s too busy cleaning his toilet.\u201d— Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7 (@Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7) 1684337390
\u201c@andreajenkyns @ConsPost THE ECHR underpins the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement and the Brexit Agreement\nAs an MP you should know these things\nAs an MP why are you petitioning the Government?\n\nAre you in the right job? Right Party? \n\nNot long now\u201d— Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7 (@Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7) 1684337390
\u201c@andreajenkyns @ConsPost only the truly bats**t want to pull out of the ECHR, decades worth of legislation would be binned in the process, not least the GFA.\u201d— Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7 (@Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7) 1684337390
\u201c@andreajenkyns @ConsPost Please explain, simply and clearly, how leaving the ECHR would reduce the number of refugees seeking asylum in the UK? Rather, by ending any possibility of cooperation with other EU states it would hugely increase their numbers. Maybe stick to singing.\u201d— Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7 (@Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7) 1684337390
\u201c@andreajenkyns @ConsPost No. I don\u2019t want to withdraw from the ECHR. It was drafted by the Allies after WW2 and underpins many freedoms we hold dear. I don\u2019t believe the \u2018overwhelming majority of the British public\u2019 want this. Hardly anyone I know does, whether Conservative or Labour.\u201d— Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7 (@Andrea Jenkyns MP \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7) 1684337390
\u201cnot only are these people dangerous fanatics, they\u2019re politically illiterate. very little of what she says marries up to the truth of how our political system and institutions work but why let that get in the way! this lot should be nowhere near a socket let alone real power.\u201d— Ben Smoke (@Ben Smoke) 1684396153
The Morley and Outwood MP isn’t the only Conservative to call for the UK to leave the ECHR, as the home secretary sparked a government row in October by saying “ultimately we do need to leave” the convention.
Ms Jenkyns’s remarks, however, have been accompanied by a petition on the Conservative Post website, which she says has “15,000 signatures and growing”, but awkwardly, has no running tally displayed.
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