By Stuart Agnew MEP
There has been a concerted effort by the political establishment to maintain that the UK’s signature to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a quite separate subject to our membership of the European Union.
This is happening because they want us to believe that allowing prisoners the vote is not connected to EU membership, but to the ECHR.
In fact the two are joined together by two distinct bonds:
1. In addition to being members of the EU, the UK is also a member of an organisation called the Council of Europe, which has a membership of about fifty countries, (several of which are not in continental Europe). Membership of the Council of Europe is dependent upon being signed up to the ECHR and, if the UK withdrew its signature from the ECHR, we would be obliged to leave the Council of Europe. However no country can be a member of the EU unless it is already a member of the Council of Europe. Therefore, if we wish to withdraw our signature from the ECHR we MUST leave the EU.
2. Under Article 6 of The Treaty of the European Union (This is the Treaty that consolidates all the treaties), once the Lisbon Treaty was signed, we have given the EU the power to decide on our behalf whether or not we remain signatories to the ECHR.
This power will formally be put in place later this year. A process we cannot prevent.