Andrew Marr: European human rights row is 'politics of distraction' from Boris

15 June 2022, 18:57

Andrew Marr has said the fresh debate over the European Human Rights treat is 'convenient' for Boris.
Andrew Marr has said the fresh debate over the European Human Rights treat is 'convenient' for Boris. Picture: LBC

By Emma Soteriou

Fresh government rows over the European Convention on Human Rights are "convenient" for Boris Johnson in his fight to regain support in his premiership, Andrew Marr has suggested.

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Opening LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, the presenter looked at the two big political stories running: the government overriding the Northern Ireland protocol and its failed attempt to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

However, he said the two issues had merged, resulting in a fresh debate over the UK's involvement in the European Commission on Human Rights - a move which has become "convenient" for the Prime Minister ahead of two by-elections next week.

"Overnight, those two stories became one - they fused together - because a European judge ruled the flight couldn't take off, ministers are now discussing Britain leaving the European Convention on Human Rights," Andrew said.

"Problem is the ECHR is written into the Good Friday agreement - the Norther Irish peace deal the government wants to protect.

"So first thing to understand is all that stuff about borders and refugees has now got bundled together into a new row between British ministers and this is - and let's put this gently - convenient for Boris Johnson, who is facing two by-elections next week in Wakefield and Tiverton.

"Lose both and his position inside the Tory party wobbles again.

"But hold one or the other and he's safe, I think, through the summer.

"A punch up with European judges protecting immigrants is exactly - Tory MPs believe - what will rally their voters at this crucial moment.

"I've talked before about the politics of distraction... I don't believe Britain will pull out of the European convention and I don't believe another story running overnight that the Prime Minister will try to expel Church of England from the House of Lords for speaking out against his Rwanda policy."

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He went on to say: "[Boris'] own grandfather - James Fawcett - was president of the European Commission on Human Rights and so no, I don't take his threat to abolish it seriously.

"And the same goes for the threat to kick out the bishops.

"Religious leaders were part of the advisory council for English kings long before Magna Carta - their statues stare down all around today's House of Lords.

He added: "You can't have the Lords without the bishops."

"Again folks, this is a deliberate distraction - it ain't going to happen," Andrew said.

"Everything here at Westminster is about the Prime Minister's own position."

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Andrew then highlighted the fact that neither of the issues were brought up in PMQs on Wednesday, with Labour ;eader Sir Keir Starmer instead shifting the focus to the economy.

"He knows what Boris Johnson wanted to talk about," said Andrew.

He added: "But what does it say about our political system that the main political clash of the week ignored the two huge stories British voters wanted to hear about?"