Kenneth Clarke has criticised Theresa May over reports that she is planning to scrap the Human Rights Act.
Ken Clarke, Minister Without Portfolio and former Justice Secretary.
Clarke, who is leading a campaign for Britain to stay in the European Union, made it clear that he would be stridently opposed to any attempt to change the legislation or pull out of the European Convention.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme, the minister without portfolio said: “We obviously must remain parties to the European Convention on Human Rights. It is extremely important that we are one of the leading members of that and make sure we keep up the pressure that helps us put mainly on countries in the former Soviet Union.”
It is the latest spat between the two Cabinet ministers, who clashed furiously in 2011 after May, the Home Secretary, claimed that the Human Rights Act meant that an illegal immigrant had escaped deportation because he had a pet cat.
At the time, Clarke, the former Justice Secretary, accused May of making “laughable, childlike” claims about the law. Pressed on the future of the Human Rights Act yesterday, Clarke said he did not “mind us reviewing how we apply” the rules.
He added: “We can review the best way of applying it, but in today’s highly tempestuous, tabloid newspaper-dominated world, with a lynch-mob every week for somebody or other, you need a convention on human rights.
“You need to be able to apply it, particularly, unfortunately when unpopular individuals are being campaigned against in the newspapers [and] are being pursued by officials or somebody — that’s what the convention of human rights is for.”
May and Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, indicated on Sunday that Britain would scrap human rights laws, and possibly even leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights, if the Tories won the next election.
The Prime Minister is under growing pressure to address the electoral threat posed by the UK Independence Party, which beat the Conservatives into third place in last week’s Eastleigh by-election, by unveiling more measures on immigration, tax and Europe.
Clarke squares up to May over Human Rights Act