Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has urged UK PM Rishi Sunak to confront the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and reject its rulings as the UK government prepares to tackle illegal migration.
Speaking on TalkTV, Sir Iain said that the government must act quickly to prevent the ECHR from overturning Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s attempts to control the country’s borders.
He added that the UK must “attack this head-on” and his preference would be for the UK to disapply rulings by the European judges.
Sir Iain expressed his disappointment that the UK is unable to follow the example of some European countries that ignore ECHR rulings because the court does not have direct applicability in their national courts.
He criticised the ECHR as a “peculiar court” and said that the real problem is the Convention of Human Rights and the court itself. He described the ECHR as being “alien” to the way that the UK operates.
Sir Iain believes that the key question in the debate over illegal crossings is where refugees should have to claim asylum.
He said that the people crossing the channel have left a country with human rights and have crossed borders of countries that have human rights.
He suggested that getting the question of where they should declare their interest and claim asylum straight would help with modern slavery.
Last year, it emerged that a Russian judge continued to sit on the ECHR, despite the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Sir Iain noted that the judge may have been politically motivated in blocking a deportation flight from the UK to Rwanda.
The UK government’s Illegal Migration Bill is expected to be debated soon in Parliament, and it is unclear what stance it will take on the ECHR.
The government has faced criticism for its handling of the small boats crisis in the English Channel, which has seen a significant increase in the number of migrants attempting to cross from France to the UK.