How will repealing EU law affect human rights in the UK?

Adam Wagner has posted this on the RightsInfo Facebook page with the request, “Please share so people have the facts”. So we’re doing that, with his permission…


BREAKING: Theresa May is to introduce a “Great Repeal Act” to “end the supremacy in Britain of EU law”. But how will it affect human rights protections?

Here are the key things to know.

1. The European Convention on Human Rights is a treaty the UK signed up to in 1953. It is not connected to the European Union and there are no plans at the moment to withdraw from it: see this.

2. The European Convention allows individuals from the UK to go to a court in Strasbourg if their rights are being violated. This is NOT the same court as the European Court of Justice, which is an EU Court which we would no longer be signed up to after Brexit. You can read more about the difference here.

3. The Human Rights Act, which protects human rights in UK law (and whose 16th birthday it is today!) is also not a European Union law – it is local UK legislation. It would not be affected by Brexit or the “Great Repeal Act”. The government has said, however, that it will be pressing ahead with a plan to scrap the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a British Bill of Rights: see this.

4. That is not to say that leaving the EU, which the Great Repeal Act would be part of, would not affect our fundamental rights. There are plenty of rights contained in EU law, such as free movement of people, privacy rights, and particularly workers’ rights, which could be affected. However, we simply don’t know what the Government will decide to leave in place when we leave. See this on what Brexit would mean for human rights.

5. At the moment, the Great Repeal Act will only kick in once we formally leave the European Union, which is at least two years away (we first have to trigger ‘Article 50’, which you may have heard about). How the government negotiates our Brexit, and then what it decides to leave in place in our laws after Brexit, is all important.

Adam Wagner

Cite this article as: Adam Wagner, “How will repealing EU law affect human rights in the UK?” in Law & Religion UK, 2 October 2016,

4 thoughts on “How will repealing EU law affect human rights in the UK?

  1. Pingback: How will repealing EU law affect human rights in the UK? – Law and Religion | Fulcrum Anglican

  2. Pingback: Theresa May on Brexit, Parliament and triggering Article 50 | Law & Religion UK

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