No 10 says ‘no plans’ to withdraw from ECHR over small boats crackdown plan

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No 10 said there are “no plans” to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) following speculation the Prime Minister could do so if his small boats crackdown faces legal opposition.

Rishi Sunak is set to publish legislation designed to stop migrants crossing the English Channel to the UK in small boats.

The Sunday Times quoted an anonymous source as saying that, should the European Court of Human Rights deem the plan unlawful, then the Prime Minister would be “willing to reconsider whether being part of the ECHR is in the UK’s long-term interest”.

The source told the newspaper that Mr Sunak, alongside Home Secretary Suella Braverman, will be “pushing the boundaries of what is legally possible, while staying within the ECHR”, with the UK Government plan for halting the boats.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman called The Sunday Times report “unsourced speculation on future plans”.

The spokesman told reporters: “We will of course comply with all our international obligations, and we are confident the measures being worked through will tackle the problem while being compliant with the ECHR.”

Asked if there are any circumstances in which the UK would consider leaving the ECHR, he replied: “There are no plans for Government to take that approach.”

The comments follow backlash from Conservative MPs over the suggestion the UK could threaten to leave the convention.

Former justice secretary Sir Robert Buckland and Sir Bob Neill, Conservative chairman of the Commons Justice Committee, have rallied against the idea.

Prime Minister’s Questions
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is due to publish his plan for tackling small boat crossings (James Manning/PA)

“Are we going to put ourselves in the same company as Russia and Belarus?”

Tackling the flow of small boats across the Channel has been set as one of Mr Sunak’s top five priorities in the run up to the next general election.

According to Downing Street, the proposals for cracking down on the crossings are due to be published “fairly soon”.

So far this year, some 1,442 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK, according to Home Office figures.

Those numbers include 262 people who made the journey this weekend.

Last year, a record 45,755 succeeded in making the trip, UK Government figures show.

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