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Brexit equality plans "lack ambition", Commission tells ministers

20 March 2017

The UK Government's Brexit plans show "a lack of ambition for equality and human rights standards", according to the chair of the Equality & Human Rights Commission, David Isaac.

On the Commission's launch of a five point plan on how to strengthen Britain’s status as a world leader on equality and human rights after the country leaves the European Union, Mr Isaac called on the Government to set out its vision for a fairer Britain and demonstrate how it will take the opportunity to create a shared society and heal the divisions exposed during and since the referendum campaign.

The five points cover:

  • protecting parliamentary sovereignty over the UK’s equality and human rights legal framework;
  • retaining the UK’s equality and human rights legal framework as it leaves the EU;
  • ensuring the UK is a global leader on equality and human rights;
  • protecting the UK’s equality and human rights infrastructure; and
  • promoting the UK as an open and fair place to live and do business.

Steps to be taken to further the plan include:

  • ruling out the use of so called “Henry VIII” powers to repeal or amend equality and human rights laws without Parliament’s approval;
  • bringing into law every part of the Equality Act 2010 not yet implemented;
  • introducing a constitutional right to equality that every law and government action can be tested against;
  • requiring every UK and devolved government trade deal to contain a human rights and democracy clause to help advance equality and human rights;
  • ensuring that equality organisations relying on EU funding, such as disabled people’s organisations, can keep running; and
  • enshrining all UN human rights treaties, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, into UK and devolved government law and producing an action plan explaining how UN recommendations will be implemented.

Mr Isaac commented: “We’ve had calls for all kinds of Brexit: a soft Brexit; a hard Brexit; and a red, white and blue Brexit. No one is talking about a fair Brexit, one that will unite the country and lead us to a shared society based on fairness and mutual respect the Prime Minister has talked about.

“At any crossroads there are important decisions to be made. We can either set out the positive requirements to maintain our traditions of respect for equality and human rights and be a country that really does work for everyone, or we can miss this golden opportunity to demonstrate how post-Brexit Britain can create a fairer and more united Britain.”

He continued: “Markets and trade deals are hugely important, but our vision for the future should not be narrowly economic. Both our economy and society will be stronger in a Britain where everyone is treated fairly and can achieve their potential. There is great deal of anxiety about leaving the European Union and the Government should go further to unite the country by setting out a positive vision for a post-Brexit Britain. That vision must be founded on pride in our shared values of tolerance and mutual respect.”

Click here to access the plan.

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