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BASW in Westminster: What’s going on with Brexit?

Boris Johnson is today heading over to Brussels for a meeting with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, to see if a deal can be done as we head towards a no-deal Brexit

By Kerri Prince, BASW Public and Political Affairs Lead

The question that the UK has been unable to escape since the 2016 referendum on our membership of the European Union: what is going on with Brexit?

With Covid-19 dominating the agenda in a year that political pundits would have predicted would be about the clock running down on securing a deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union, there now seems to be a last-minute rush to achieve a deal palatable to both EU leaders and the Houses of Parliament.

Despite what political party leaders may have had you believe over the past few years, securing a deal has never been an easy task. But now time is running out, and the EU Chief Negotiator has told Members of the European Parliament that negotiations would continue until Wednesday, but then a decision would have to be made on whether a deal is achievable or not.

Boris Johnson is today heading over to Brussels for a meeting with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, to see if a deal can be done as we hurtle towards a no-deal Brexit.

It is important to note that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union does not remove the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Government has said that they remain committed to the ECHR. The 1998 Human Rights Act still stands, yet the Government announced today that the independent review into this has begun, which will consider the relationship between UK courts and the ECHR.

The review will also look into whether domestic courts are being unduly drawn into areas of policy, which should prompt concern in those who see the courts as a check on actions taken by the Government. For example, Article 39 recently took the Government to court over Statutory Instrument 445 which weakened statutory child protection laws – and won. Few people will also have forgotten anti-Brexit campaigners going to the UK Supreme Court over Boris Johnson proroguing Parliament last year – which resulted in the Prime Minister’s actions being deemed unlawful.

We are in a transitional period, both with the European Union but also in being the country that we want to be. There has been worry that by not being members of the European Union, it would give the UK Government free reign to water down the rights we currently enjoy.

All those with an interest in defending human rights must keep a close eye on what happens next as we descend further into uncertainty over our place in the world.

This article was accurate as of 3pm, Wednesday 9th December. This is a fast-changing policy area.