LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will quit the European Court of Human Rights unless it agrees that the Westminster parliament has the final say over its rulings, according to pre-election plans detailed on Friday by Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party.
Cameron, who is seeking to counter the threat from the anti-European Union UK Independence Party in May’s national election, has said rulings by the European rights court had prevented Britain deporting suspected militants.
He has also criticised the court for insisting on human rights on the battlefields of Afghanistan and upholding the rights of prisoners to vote. “We do not require instruction on this from judges in Strasbourg,” Cameron said to applause in a keynote speech earlier this week to the last Conservative Party conference before the election.
The Conservatives are trying to bolster their support ahead of a probably close election next year, and the announcement received a warm welcome from Britain’s right-leaning newspapers which have been vocal critics of the court, with the Daily Mail running a front page headline “End of human rights farce”. An opinion poll on Friday showed the Conservatives edging ahead of the centre-left opposition Labour party for the first time in more than two years. But support for UKIP stood at 14 per cent, underscoring the threat it poses to both parties.
Cameron has said he wants to bring back powers to London from Europe before an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU that the Conservatives have promised if they win re-election. Under the proposal, if the Conservatives win a parliamentary majority in May 2015, Britain will pass a Bill of Rights that would set out the application of human rights law in Britain.