Gordon Brown accuses Sunak of undermining the ‘whole system of international law’

Gordon Brown has accused the prime minister of “systematically undermining” the “whole system of international law” with his threat to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). 

Writing in The Times newspaper, the former Labour prime minister responded to Rishi Sunak’s comments last week in which the prime minister suggested he could leave the ECHR in order to implement his Rwanda deportation plan and “stop the boats”.

Sunak argued last week that controlling immigration is more important than “membership of a foreign court” in his strongest hint yet that he could back leaving the ECHR — a move supported by many MPs on the Conservative right. 

The prime minister told The Sun’s Never Mind The Ballots programme: “I believe that all plans are compliant with all of our international obligations including the ECHR. 

“But I do believe that border security and making sure that we can control illegal migration is more important than membership of a foreign court because it’s fundamental to our sovereignty as a country.”

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill currently making its way through parliament includes provisions that would allow ministers to ignore its rulings. 

But the PM had previously played down the possibility of a commitment, either in government or in an election manifesto, to leave the ECHR outright. 

Responding to Sunak’s new position on the ECHR, Gordon Brown argued in The Times that “the whole system of international law — not just the ECHR, but also the Refugee Convention and general human rights and humanitarian law — is being systemically undermined” by the government. 

He said: “When Sunak arrived in No 10, he had an opportunity to reaffirm core British values after the years of Johnson and Truss playing fast and loose with them. Yet, while stopping short of formally leaving the ECHR — the issue he has with the ultra-right of the party — he appears to have renounced its core elements”

He added: “The result? Russia will exploit the British retreat to ridicule the legitimacy of international human rights law and our voice in the world will increasingly go unheard”. 

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