The frontrunner to become Britain’s next Defence Secretary has quashed Tory demands to leave the ECHR in order to stop small boat crossings.
John Glen is currently Chief Secretary to the Treasury, but with Ben Wallace announcing his departure ahead of the expected September reshuffle, he is thought to be Rishi Sunak’s pick to take the top Cabinet job.
Asked on LBC this morning whether he supports the growing sentiment within the Tory Party to quit the ECHR, Mr Glen simply replied: “No”.
The top minister said he believed the plan that the PM and Home Secretary have in place will work, and pointed out the Rwanda scheme is yet to finish going through the courts.
“I believe in plan A and we will see that come to fruition in the autumn.”
Mr Glen is the latest top Tory to resist calls from within the party to quit the ECHR, which would see Britain in a small club of European countries not signed up to the convention, alongside Russia and Belarus.
Law ministers Alex Chalk and Victoria Prentis are also believed to be opposed to such a move.
However the Cabinet, as well as the party, is split.
According to the Telegraph, at least eight Cabinet Ministers are in favour of leaving the ECHR in order to finally get a grip on Britain’s porous borders.
Asked on Wednesday whether the Government would quit the ECHR if it lost its Rwanda court appeal, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said: “We’ll do whatever is necessary ultimately, to defend our borders and to bring order to the asylum system.”
Another ally of Mr Sunak told the paper: “The Government isn’t ruling it out. We’ve spent a very long time as a party trying to find a place that we can live with the ECHR, and we still want to – but ultimately, if you get to a point between deliverability and not, then I don’t think you can totally rule it out.”
Nearly 70 Tory MPs backed leaving the Convention in a Commons vote last year.
This morning senior Tories have called on Ministers not to wait for the General Election to act on the European Convention on Human Rights, but should introduce domestic legislation now to “make explicit” that it will not apply to migrants who illegally come to the UK on small boats.
Yesterday the Government faced a blow during its small boats week, as official figures suggested the number of illegal migrants coming over the Channel had finally hit 100,000 since records began in January 2018.
Tory MP Miriam Cates writes for the Telegraph this morning, recounting the history of the ECHR and pointing out that as a “living convention” its court has “expanded and distorted the convention beyond recognition”.
“This “mission creep” is such that the ECHR has now become a threat to – rather than a protector of – democracy.”
“Defending national borders is surely the primary duty of any government and it is frankly absurd that an unelected foreign judge can prevent a democratic executive from achieving its legitimate aims.”
“If the Supreme Court later this year decides that the Government’s Rwanda policy is incompatible with European law, there will be a very compelling case for leaving the ECHR.”