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Friday 29 August 2014

PM pressed to axe Human Rights Act

Published 02/03/2013 | 03:01

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David Cameron is feeling the heat from within his own party after the Tories' performance in Eastleigh
Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy PM Nick Clegg was all smiles after victory for party candidate Mike Thornton
Ukip members were back on the streets of Eastleigh to thank voters who made them runner-up in the by-election

David Cameron is under pressure from Tory backbenchers to defy his Liberal Democrat coalition partners and press ahead with the abolition of the controversial Human Rights Act.

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The Prime Minister insisted there would be no "lurch to the right" in the wake of the Tories' drubbing in the Eastleigh by-election, which saw the party beaten into third place behind the UK Independence Party.

But after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling suggested the next Conservative general election manifesto would include a pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act, Mr Cameron faced calls from Tory MPs to take action immediately.

Backbencher Mark Field said if ministers failed to act, having raised the issue in public, they would simply fuel the disillusionment of voters who turned away from the party in Eastleigh.

"Either do something now and call the Liberal Democrats' bluff on this, or stay quiet. Because it's that sort of cynicism - it's just politicians saying words and not doing anything," he told Sky News's Murnaghan programme.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage dismissed the talk of repeal as "jam tomorrow", saying voters no longer believed promises made by the Conservatives. "Their own supporters look at a Conservative Party that used to talk about wealth creation, low tax and enterprise and it now talks about gay marriage and wind farms," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show. "When these promises are made no one believes them any more."

Any move to scrap the Human Rights Act - which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights in British law - would be fiercely resisted by the Lib Dems, and would open up a huge rift in the coalition.

Many Tories however remain determined to free Britain from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights following a series of controversial rulings blocking the deportation of the radical cleric Abu Qatada and insisting on votes for prisoners.

Mr Grayling indicated that the Conservatives could pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights altogether if they gained an overall majority in 2015. "I've not ruled anything in, I've not ruled anything out," he told BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics. "If anyone sits down and reads it (the convention) as a document (they) would struggle to find a word they disagreed with. It was written in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Holocaust, all the issues in the eastern bloc.

"What's happened since then, the decision-making in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, has moved I think that convention further and further away from the original intentions of its authors." He added: "To my mind human rights is about some of the appalling things happening around the world, people being brutalised for their political views, people being put in jail. It's not about saying a prisoner has a right to artificial insemination while they're in jail."

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