Boris Johnson warns his threat to withdraw from human rights treaty threatens stability in Northern Ireland

Boris Johnson has been warned that he risks destabilizing Northern Ireland if he makes good on his threat to pull the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights in response to a court ruling that thwarted his efforts to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda on Tuesday.

After the Prime Minister said he might have to “change some laws” to allow flights to operate, Downing Street today confirmed that leaving the ECtHR was one of the options under consideration.

The news was met with consternation in Belfast and Dublin, as convention membership is a fundamental element of the Good Friday Agreement that ended the 1998 riots.

Withdrawal would make the UK the only non-signatory in Europe, apart from Belarus, whose bid to join the Council of Europe was blocked due to its failure to meet democratic standards, and Russia, which withdrew after invading Ukraine.

The threat came after Mr Johnson’s government said it was acting to protect the Agreement by introducing legislation that would sever the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal between Northern Ireland and the EU.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood told The Independent that any attempt to rescind the convention would be a “clear breach” of the Agreement, which expressly places an obligation on the UK government to incorporate it into Northern Ireland law.

“You cannot, on the one hand, use the primacy of the Good Friday Agreement to justify a violation of international law in relation to a protocol, and, on the other hand, a violation of the Agreement in relation to the ECHR,” Mr. Eastwood said.

“The Good Friday Agreement is a peace agreement based on internationalism and multilateral support for a democratic settlement in Ireland. Every week, Boris Johnson demonstrates how unfit he is to be his co-guarantor. He must not be allowed to destroy the elements of the peace process and our human rights system by pursuing an inhuman asylum policy.”

And Alliance Party MP Stephen Farry told The Independent: “It’s not even an option. The ECtHR is strongly linked to the Good Friday Agreement.

“The agreement will be broken. It stands together as a whole, and the removal of one part will fatally undermine it as a whole.

“It would create instability, uncertainty and political dysfunction. The Assembly and other structures may limp, but we will not have an Agreement, which is unacceptable, not least because of the history of Northern Ireland.”

Mr Johnson has previously pledged to replace the Human Rights Act, which incorporates the ECHR into British law, with a British Bill of Rights.

But so far he has resisted pressure from the conservative right to withdraw from the convention, which was largely created by the UK after World War II and obliges signatories to accept rulings from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

There was renewed attack on the ECtHR in the House of Commons today after Tuesday’s debacle when last-minute decisions by judges in Strasbourg, as well as by the English Court of Appeal, prevented the expulsion of seven asylum seekers on a £500,000 charter plane.

Conservative MP Alexander Stafford denounced what he called “a despicable decision by a foreign European Court of Justice”, while fellow Tory Jonathan Gullis said voters were frustrated that “foreign judges are interfering with our UK legal system”.

Mr Gullis, a parliamentary assistant in the Northern Ireland office, hurriedly deleted a social media post in which he said the ECtHR “has no place in the UK judiciary” and the government should “get rid of it entirely”, replacing it with a softened appeal for its role in UK law to be “reviewed”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel declined to comment on the ECtHR’s membership in the House of Commons, citing the need to avoid influencing ongoing litigation. But she said that Sir Desmond Swain, Sir Desmond Swain, “tempted me” when he asked if she wanted to “take back control” from the Strasbourg judges.

And Mr Johnson’s spokesman left no doubt that the convention had been called into question when he told reporters: “We keep all options on the table as part of our work to address the issues raised by the repeated and sometimes unsubstantiated claims that we see consistently from repatriation flights, obviously continuing to protect the vulnerable.”

“What we do is review the decision before deciding how best to proceed.

“The role of the ECtHR will now be considered, as well as existing UK law and whether it functions as intended.”

Attorney General Swella Braverman later echoed his comments, telling BBC Radio 4. world in one: “The government has made it clear… that all options are on the table. So we exclude nothing and exclude nothing.

“We are definitely open to assessing all available options for how our relationship with (the ECtHR) should develop.”

The comments come hours after Cabinet Minister Teresa Coffey said in a radio interview that she was “not aware of any decisions or hints to withdraw from the ECtHR”.

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Kyle said: “Labor’s commitment to the Good Friday Agreement is fundamental and the ECtHR are the forests that support the agreement.

“As these comments show, conservatives care more about the culture wars than the Good Friday deal.”