Thursday 9 March 2023

Braverman's "Illegal Migration Bill"

The "Illegal Migration Bill" was presented to the House of Commons on Tuesday 7 March 2023. It contains this remarkable statement:-

The Bill itself may be read at Illegal Migration Bill - Parliamentary Bills - UK Parliament

Parliament is being asked by the Home Secretary to legislate in the clear knowledge that the Bill - (or aspects of the Bill) - cannot be said to be compatible with Convention rights. 

Does Braverman's statement make a legal difference? The generally-accepted answer is that statements under section 19 are neither binding on the courts nor legally persuasive. That was certainly the view of  Lord Hope in A, R v. [2001] UKHL 25 (17 May 2001) ( Plainly, if a question of compatibility comes before the courts then the judges will do what they consider the law requires in the circumstances of the case.

Politically, it reveals - (if further revelation were required) - that at least some members of the present government view human rights as an obstacle preventing Ministers from getting their way.  Some of the more "hardline" politicians in the UK would take the nation out of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Home Secretary - Suella Braverman KC MP - is among their number.

At present, withdrawal from the convention is NOT officially Conservative Party policy but here we see the government asking Parliament to pass legislation that may be contrary to the European Convention. 

The government is also distancing the UK from the Refugee Convention which, in international law, grants the right to seek asylum and does not require that to be in the first "safe" country reached by the individual.

The European Convention protects the rights of all in the UK and it underpins other international agreements including the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU and the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement.

If the government's so-called Bill of Rights Bill proceeds it will repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and significantly weaken protections within the UK for human rights even though the UK would still be bound in international law by the convention.

Voters may yet have to decide whether they are prepared to allow UK politicians to go further still and remove altogether the protection for fundamental rights offered by the European Convention.

The Bill is discussed in this House of Commons Library briefing - Illegal Migration Bill 2022-23 - House of Commons Library - Research Briefing (

UK Government:

Illegal Migration Bill - GOV.UK (

See the government's own assessment regarding human rights-  ECHR_Memo_Illegal_Migration_Bill-07323 (


Rishi Sunak ‘extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in UK’ | Immigration and asylum | The Guardian

The Guardian view on refugee rights: a warning from history | Editorial 8 March 2023 | The Guardian

Brexit trade treaty ‘could be terminated’ if UK quits ECHR over small boat crossings | Immigration and asylum | The Guardian 8 March 2023

The Illegal Migration Bill will define the next election | The Spectator 7 March 2023

An illegal bill? - by Joshua Rozenberg - A Lawyer Writes (

Human Rights Act 1998 section 19

31 March 2023:

Europe’s human rights watchdog warns UK over illegal migration bill | Refugees | The Guardian

26 April 2023:

The Illegal Migration Bill completed its stages in the House of Commons. The vote on Third Reading was Ayes 289, Noes 230. The Bill must next pass the House of Lords. Illegal Migration Bill - Parliamentary Bills - UK Parliament

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