Joint statement: the UK's human rights and equality bodies on Brexit

Published: 13 Jun 2018

Joint statement on Brexit from the UK’s four statutory bodies for human rights and equality: 

  • Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
  • Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI)
  • Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC)
  • Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC)

We are united in our commitment to protect and enhance equality and human rights standards across the UK.

We have jointly identified three priority areas that should be protected and advanced in the course of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

These are:

  • ensuring parliament gets a say in any proposed changes to the UK’s equality and human rights legal framework
  • retaining at least equivalent equality and human rights legal protections as those we currently have in the UK - we need progression, not regression
  • ensuring the UK is a global leader in equality and human rights.

We also consider that the protection of equality and human rights should remain a priority in negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement.

We are particularly concerned that loss of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU will lead to gaps in protection and that removing the Charter as part of the Brexit process would create significant legal uncertainty; retained law would simply be incomplete without it. This is clearly demonstrated by the decision of the Irish Supreme Court on 1 February 2018 to refer a question to the European Court on whether it should refuse extradition to the UK under a European arrest warrant because of uncertainty whether the Appellant’s rights, including under the Charter, will be capable of enforcement after Brexit.

The simplest and best way to comply with the government’s political commitment that substantive rights remain unchanged after Brexit is to retain Charter rights in relation to EU law throughout the UK.