James Forsyth

What’s the hold up with the British Bill of Rights?

What's the hold up with the British Bill of Rights?
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Before the election, the Tories talked about introducing a British Bill of Rights in their first 100 days in office. But eight months on from the election, the government hasn’t even started consulting on it yet.

Some of this delay is understandable. When Michael Gove was made Justice Secretary, he wanted to work out his own solution to this problem. But the timetable has just kept slipping. After the election, we were told proposals would come in the autumn. Then, it was before the end of the year. Then in December, in the New Year. Yet, we still haven’t seen these proposals—and won’t in the next few weeks either.

But, as I write in The Sun this morning, the bill is now pretty much ready. One Whitehall source tells me, ‘‘If Number 10 wanted it to go, it could go’.

So, why is Number 10 sitting on it? Well, Cabinet Ministers, suspect, with justification, that Downing Street want to use the British Bill of Rights to bolster the renegotiation.

Number 10 is very conscious that one of the things that most angers the public about Europe is that European Courts and EU law have made it far harder to boot undesirables such as Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada out of the country. So, once the renegotiation is done, they hope to present the British Bill of Rights as the solution to this problem with the aim of taking this issue off the table ahead of the referendum.