European human rights law can be dumped in favour of a British bill of rights based on history, legal tradition and most Englishmen’s “pride in their own separateness”, according to a top judge.
In the opinion of Lord Sumption, 66, “serious” social differences between the UK and continental European countries mean we are able to adopt effective alternatives to European human rights law.
Lord Sumption’s comments have been seen as endorsing the Conservative government’s plans to replace European human rights law embodied in the previous Labour government’s Human Rights Act with a new British Bill of Rights, reports The Daily Mail.
Lord Sumption, 66, one of the 12 Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (pictured above) since 2012, had spoken with the London Evening Standard. In an interview where he highlighted the existence of differences between European countries, he explained:
“Some have had a past under communist rule, some have a strong Catholic tradition, some have a strong Protestant tradition, they have different standards of education and social provision.
“So I don’t think one should assume that exactly the same way of protecting human rights is ideal in every different social context. There is room for different ways of doing things.”
Similar to the Conservative government’s view, he did not see the repeal of the Human Rights Act as the end of human rights:
“I’m sure we’ll find a way, whether it’s the existing system or some variant that works. Nobody is saying the protection of human rights should be abandoned. It’s an argument about methods.”
According to his official Supreme Court biography, Lord Sumption is an “accomplished historian”, something which gives him a different perspective on matters. He went into further detail about the differences between European countries, stating that the British “are less inclined to be told what to do by outside authorities than most countries”, adding:
“That is because of our physical location, the fact that we are an island, that we have never been invaded or had a revolution since the middle of the 17th century, and we have a system of government and a legal system that has very gradually evolved and has unique features shared by no other country, apart from Ireland which was once part of the UK.
“We also have a recent history which has produced in most Englishmen a pride in their own separateness.
“I’m thinking mainly of the war where we were the only country in Europe apart from Spain which was not overrun by the Nazis and we were the only one among the European countries that was among the victors at the end.”
Breitbart London previously reported on supporters of Labour’s Human Rights Act saying that Conservative plans for repeal risk Britain finding itself unable to criticise the likes of President Putin on the basis of his human rights record. Lord Sumption believes that there are downsides to such means of international influence.
Reminding people of the costs he said: “It depends how much you are prepared to accept the modification of our own legal system in order to improve the legal system of other countries.”
Defending Labour’s Human Rights Act against repeal is one of the few issues uniting Labour, the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats and other opposition parties. With its Parliamentary majority of just 12 MPs, the Conservative government may well have to work with the Human Rights Act for some time.
Lord Sumption’s scepticism directed at European human rights law does not necessarily mean he wants to leave the European Union. On that subject he is, as yet, undecided. Asked how he might vote in the upcoming referendum he replied:
“I’m an Englishman and this is my country…
“We have to work out how much autonomy we’d really have even if we were on our own. I will certainly vote, but I genuinely don’t know how I will vote.”