Leaving ECHR is ‘off the table’ with Cameron as Foreign Secretary, Osborne says

David Cameron’s former chancellor has said leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is “off the table” with the former prime minister serving as Foreign Secretary.

George Osborne suggested the nuclear option of withdrawing from the international treaty would be too “extreme” for Lord Cameron, despite frustrations in Government after the Supreme Court ruled its Rwanda scheme unlawful.

The new Foreign Secretary flirted with the prospect of leaving the ECHR as prime minister in 2015 but never took steps to do so, opting to hold the Brexit referendum a year later which effectively ended his pro-Remain administration.

Northern Research Group conference
George Osborne said on his Political Currency podcast that leaving the ECHR would be ‘off the table’ for his former colleague David Cameron (Danny Lawson/PA)

Mr Osborne told his Political Currency podcast with Ed Balls: “The interesting thing about David Cameron’s appointment … I don’t think necessarily he will go along with something as extreme as that. He’s actually more right wing than I am on this. He was a Home Office special adviser for Michael Howard.

“He’s always railed against elements of ECHR judgments. But I think the option of going into the general election saying we’re going to pull out of the ECHR and throw the challenge to Labour, see whether they agree or not, I think that’s basically now off the table because David Cameron is Foreign Secretary.”

When Lord Cameron was asked in 2015 in the Commons whether the UK might pull out of the ECHR, should it face obstacles in its bid to change Labour-era human rights laws, he said he would “rule out absolutely nothing in getting that done.”

“We are very clear about what we want, which is British judges making decisions in British courts,” he added.

Sacked home secretary Suella Braverman is among those on the Tory right demanding that Mr Sunak introduces laws to block off the ECHR, Human Rights Act and other routes of legal challenge to the Government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Kigali.

The Prime Minister was resisting those calls on Wednesday, but did announce “emergency legislation” to empower Parliament to deem Rwanda a safe country and new measures aimed at mitigating the risk of migrants being returned to their home country once in the east African nation.