The Conservative party narrowly voted against Labour’s bid to retain EU human rights measures in UK law post-Brexit last night by 311 votes to 301.
Just one Conservative MP, Ken Clarke, defied the Government whip and voted for the motion to retain the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, put forward by Jeremy Corbyn.
Civic organisations warned over the weekend that individual rights to privacy, equality, freedom of expression, fair working conditions, a fair trial, access to a lawyer and the protection of personal data are all in potential jeopardy if the charter is stripped from the UK state book after Brexit, in March 2019.
Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of forsaking human rights protections to ‘throw a bone’ to Brexiteers following the vote.
Former Labour minister Chris Leslie said: “It does seem to me, that the prime minister – worried the hardline Eurosceptics, the hardline Brexiteers on her benches are champing at her heels, nipping at her heels – that she had to throw them a bone.”
Even the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Ken Clarke ridiculed the idea, asking: “Why is the government going to such lengths to get rid of it as the one specific change in this bill?
“Presumably it’s because it’s got the words ’European’ and ’rights’ in it.”
According to sources in Westminster May was forced to offer concessions to keep the flagship Brexit bill on coarse, promising ministers new proposals on human rights rules within weeks.
Dominic Raab, the justice minister, said the Government would outline within two weeks how key articles of the EU charter will be reflected in UK law by releasing a “detailed memorandum”.