May promises not to ditch ECHR
UK Prime Minister Theresa May in the Conservative Party manifesto has promised to remain a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) for the next parliament, despite rumours that she was hoping to call for it to be ditched ahead of the planned 2020 election campaign. She surprised most observers by calling an early general election for June 8.
May’s manifesto foreword says: “This election is the most important this country has faced in my lifetime. Our future prosperity, our place in the world, our standard of living, and the opportunities we want for our children – and our children’s children – all depend on getting the next five years right… if we succeed, the opportunities ahead of us are great.”
May previously said the ECHR frustrated her plans during her years as home secretary between 2010 and 2016 to deport Islamist preacher Abu Qatada.
The Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland, also depends on the ECHR, leading critics to warn that withdrawing from the convention would be “playing with fire”.
The ECHR protects the prohibition of torture, slavery, the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression.
The manifesto promises real-terms increases in NHS spending reaching £8 billion (€9.34 billion) extra per year by 2022/23, to scrap the so-called triple-lock on the state pension, which guarantees it rises by the highest of average earnings, inflation or 2.5 per cent.
May intends to raise the cost of the care threshold from £23,000 to £100,000 but include the value of people’s homes in calculating the assets for home and residential care.
She plans to scrap free-school lunches for infants in England, but offer free breakfasts across the primary years.
She will invest an extra £4 billion into schools by 2022 and cut net migration to below 100,000.
The manifesto ruled out a Scottish independence referendum until after Brexit is complete and aims to maintain “as frictionless a border as possible” in Ireland.
The manifesto announced: “As we leave the European Union, we will no longer be members of the single market or customs union but we will seek a deep and special partnership, including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement.
“There may be specific European programmes in which we might want to participate and, if so, it will be reasonable that we make a contribution.
“We will determine a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, in accordance with the law and in the spirit of the UK’s continuing partnership with the EU.
“The principle, however, is clear: the days of Britain making vast annual contributions to the European Union will end.”
A Theresa May costume from the anti-Brexit rally in London on March 25. Picture credit: Eurasia Times