The SNP’s Westminster leader has marked Human Rights Day by calling on the UK Government to uphold “to the letter” the rights of every citizen in the UK.
Ian Blackford MP warned that leaving the European Union (EU) must not result in the erosion of citizens’ rights as powers are transferred from Brussels to Westminster.
Mr Blackford urged the UK Government to reverse the decision not to retain the EU charter of fundamental rights in UK law post-Brexit.
Theresa May’s Government has said it is not necessary to keep the charter in order to retain its laws, principles and rights as these will already be converted into domestic law through the EU Withdrawal Bill.
But Mr Blackford said the removal of the charter risked creating extra legal uncertainty and instability.
He said: “UN Human Rights Day is such an important opportunity for us all to acknowledge the progress we have made, but also the work that still has to be done to ensure those rights are never challenged or put at any risk.
“However, as the UK edges ever closer to exiting the EU, we must also make clear that the UK Government cannot and will not get away with any curbs on citizens’ rights and attempt to move away from the guarantees within the charter of fundamental rights.
“It is important, as EU law is transferred to UK domestic law, that the Tory government ensures that they uphold to the letter the rights of every single citizen in the UK – regardless of their background and beliefs. Those rights are paramount and unassailable.
“However, the rhetoric of the past few months and the long-term infliction of Tory austerity is a reflection of a government pushing ahead with regressive policies that is pushing more and more people into desperation and poverty.
“The UN has repeatedly warned of the impact this government’s policies are having on disabled and vulnerable people, coupled with the dangers raised of the UK’s threat of withdrawing from the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights).
“The SNP will fight tooth and nail to ensure that those rights that benefit us all are never put into question.”
A Department for Exiting the EU spokesman said: “The UK has a long-standing tradition of ensuring our rights are protected. As we leave the EU, we are taking action to ensure that that continues.
“The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights was never the source of the rights in the UK.
“However, to provide reassurance we have published analysis showing how each right found in the Charter will be reflected in UK law after exit.”