Conservatives say want out of European rights accord

MANCHESTER Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:18pm BST

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May arrives at Number 10 Downing Street in London August 29, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May arrives at Number 10 Downing Street in London August 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

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MANCHESTER (Reuters) - Home Secretary Theresa May said on Monday her ruling Conservative party would take Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights if re-elected in 2015, saying she would include such a promise in the party's election manifesto.

"It's ridiculous that the British government should have to go to such lengths to get rid of dangerous foreigners," she told an annual conference of her party. "That's why the next Conservative manifesto will promise to scrap the human rights act."

The act has made the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) enforceable in Britain's courts since 2000. "If leaving the European Convention is what it takes to fix our human rights laws that is what we should do," said May.

Although the ECHR is not part of the European Union system, British eurosceptics often drag it into the country's debate on Europe, holding it up as an unacceptable example of external interference in Britain's internal affairs.

A series of high-profile cases in which the European Court of Human Rights, which upholds the convention, has thwarted the British government have angered many voters and exposed successive governments to the accusation they do not control Britain's own borders.

May cited the case of radical cleric Abu Qatada, who resisted British attempts to send him to Jordan to face terrorism charges for more than a decade, as a prime example of what was wrong with the ECHR.

(Reporting By Andrew Osborn; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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