Carmichael: Threat to leave ECHR risks breaking Good Friday Agreement

Writing in The House yesterday, Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dem Home Affairs and Northern Ireland spokesperson, said:

In less than 24 hours Boris Johnson has gone from pretending to be a defender of the Good Friday Agreement, to threatening to remove the legal underpinnings of peace in Northern Ireland altogether.

Carmichael’s comment came as the prime minister and ministers dropped heavy hints that if the law were to get in the way of Rwanda deportation flights, the government could withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Good Friday Agreement expressly requires the United Kingdom to have the Convention directly enforceable in Northern Ireland.

Carmichael continues:

The government is threatening to leave the ECHR in order to fulfil its Rwanda policy – but the UK cannot leave the ECHR without breaking the Good Friday Agreement. They are mutually exclusive.

Boris Johnson is famous for his “cake-ism” – his belief in trying to have it both ways, in refusing to accept blatant impossibilities in his policies. It has made him an entertaining fictional character, a tenacious politician – and a terrible, destructive, corrosive leader of this country.

His latest contradiction, however, really does take the cake.

The European Convention on Human Rights has long been in the firing line for the sort of hard-right Conservative who thinks that Winston Churchill was a bleeding-heart lefty liberal. They have never succeeded in their quest, because even our most draconian leaders of the past have recognised that the rule of law is a dangerous thing to trifle with, particularly when it underwrites a hard-won peace in our country.

The easy answer is that Boris Johnson is consistent in his inconsistency, and far more focused on picking fights than following through with them. He has no real intention of withdrawing from the ECHR, just as he doesn’t really want the morally bankrupt Rwanda policy – or its flights – to get off the ground. It is all about the press release, the photo opportunity, the front-page splash – and forget about the outcome.

That may indeed be the truth of the matter. This is a government with a goldfish-like attention span and a tenuous grasp on reality at the best of times.

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3 Comments

  • Reneging on international agreements and treaties fundamentally undermines the legitimacy of our country, domestically and on the international stage, but some of the voting public still like the idea of “taking back control” and think it makes Brexit Britain look good. Sadly, of course, resorting to delusions of omnipotence signals not strength, but the opposite – impotence. The divisive Johnson government will keep manipulating the sentiments of the ‘left behind’ in this way until enough people start to see through the tactic. Fortunately that does seem to be happening.
    A more intractable problem with Johnson stems from the frightening times we live in. Ecological Armageddon has now been joined by food supply uncertainties, war in Europe, and out of control inflation. We need a serious-minded leader at the helm, and yet it is his jokiness and his patrician sense of entitlement which some of his ardent supporters like most about him. That may seem illogical, but it does make a kind sense – he doesn’t seem all that worried, and even responds with jokes to journalists who are having a dig at him. It makes him seem Jovial in both senses, humorous, and god-like.

  • The trouble is that this government, especially Johnson never think of consequences. Just look at Brexit and the disgraceful, inhuman Rwanda business. I fear that they will just drift into this without any thought as to the consequences and then put up increasingly bizarre and irrelevant defences of their stupidity. Of course the Tory press will blame it on the EU Court because they either don’t understand the difference or wilfully misrepresent it.
    I fear it’s just Johnson throwing yet another dead cat on the table to try and stop scrutiny of his appalling Prime Ministership and his constant lying

  • I have watched Suella Braverman’s appearances with ever increasing despair…Her distorted handling of facts and figures would get you a life sentence for a parking offence were she to represent you in a court of law..

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