WHAT does Boris Johnson and his government stand for? I struggle to discern any principle, policy or ideology other than helping cronies to fill their boots at the expense of the taxpayer and being against the European Union (EU), asylum seekers, migrants and lawyers.

Of course, Johnson himself was famously for the UK remaining in the EU until the wind changed and he saw Brexit as a Willie Wonka golden-ticket to become Prime Minister (PM). He’s no Charlie Bucket.

It was a year ago that our hapless PM tried to shut down Parliament for a month because he was having a hard time with Brexit negotiations and his own MPs were rebellious. So, he decided to prorogue the House of Commons.

The UK Supreme Court declared his advice to the Queen unlawful in the case of Cherry v. Advocate General for Scotland. Because of that he set up a panel to look at curtailing the right of citizens to hold government and public bodies to account by applying to the court for a judicial review.

Last week Johnson published his Internal Market Bill. Clause 45 says it will apply despite being incompatible with any international or domestic law. It does this because the PM says he will re-write the already binding EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Think about it: we will break the law. This is the stuff of tin pot dictators: we will ignore the rule of law. We are above it. Not one of the PM’s law officers – the Lord Chancellor, Solicitor General, or Advocate General has resigned over this. They’ve all given mealy mouthed justifications for breaking international law.

The former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Thomas, has said the Lord Chancellor should reconsider his position and resign. If the Government’s own law officers won’t uphold the rule of law who will?

The Internal Market Bill rips up devolution settlements for Scotland and Wales and the Good Friday Agreement for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It would give Number 10 the power to race to the bottom for lower food and product safety and control of state aid in Scotland. The First Minister is right to say this is a power grab that undermines the devolution settlement.

Glasgow Times: Prime Minister Boris Johnson Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Over the weekend we were told the PM intends opting out of parts of European human rights law. The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has got nothing to do with the EU. It’s a treaty between the 47 member states of the Council of Europe – a separate entity all together.

The need for the ECHR was first proposed while the Second World War was raging across Europe. The premise was simple. Never again would we allow people’s rights to be dehumanised and abused with impunity. 

The United Kingdom was the first state to ratify the ECHR in March 1951.

At the Congress of Europe in 1948 delegates gathered to agree on the human rights to be protected. At the meeting, Winston Churchill said, “In the centre of our movement stands the idea of a Charter of Human Rights, guarded by freedom and sustained by law.”

Neither Johnson’s government nor the UK Parliament has the power to opt-out of parts of the ECHR: we have ratified the convention as a human rights treaty. You either sign it or you don’t. However, Parliament could repeal the 1998 Human Rights Act (HRA) in whole or in part.

The effect of this would be an individual or legal person (such as a partnership or company) could no longer directly rely upon, and enforce, the ECHR in a court of law within the UK. They would lose the possibility of a quick and powerful remedy to stop something bad happening to them.

If the HRA was watered down people could only enforce their rights before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) – in effect some years after the fact, with a clunky remedy against the UK as the contracting state.

The effect of repealing parts of the HRA would be devastating to the people for whom it represents the last hope for justice. In many cases the difference between destitution or humanity; life or death.

The HRA has provided vital benefits. It’s stopped elderly couples from being separated and placed in different residential care homes; secured homes for survivors of domestic violence; challenged the discrimination of people who are homeless, disabled or LGBT; prevented degrading practices in psychiatric hospitals and prisons; and much more.

Why would the PM want to remove human rights from the HRA? If human rights are removed from the HRA, the UK government know that they can do as they please and ignore human rights. What does Boris Johnson and his government stand for?