Eastleigh’s liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne – the newly promoted energy secretary in the coalition cabinet – has indicated he is happy with the government’s approach to issue of Human Rights despite having been widely reported in the press as saying that he would resign if the Human Rights act were to be repealed.
The Daily Mirror first ran the story which was based on ‘tweets’ by Lib Dem activists who had attended the post election Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham.
The newspaper reported the Eastleigh MP as saying words to the effect that:
“If the Human Rights Act goes – I go”.
A story then broke in the media that a man suspected of being an Al Qaeda operative had a deportation order overturned following an appeal based on the HRA – the subsequent wave of indignation in the press appeared to bounce Home secretary Theresa May into saying that the conservative party were reconsidering its flagship manifesto pledge to scrap the HRA – a pledge the conservatives had shared with the BNP and UKIP.
The Tory supporting tabloids The Sun, Express and Daily Mail then all revived the Mirror story – possibly in the hope of causing embarrassment to Mr Huhne, who presumably was not their first choice for a cabinet ministers post having been staunchly in favour of civil liberties while Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman -in addition to being a noted EU enthusiast.
However the danger of division or resignations over the issue of Human Rights now appears to have receded for the coalition.
Following a warning from Nick Clegg that governments would tamper with the act ‘at their peril’ the coalition has agreed that the Human Rights Act will be reviewed by a commission.
When Eastleigh News contacted Mr Huhne’s office regarding the newspaper stories they declined to make any comment except to say that Mr Huhne was ‘very pleased’ with the approach the coalition had adopted to the matter of Human rights –the clearest indication that Mr Huhne does not believe he will be faced with a ‘crisis of conscience’ following a repeal of the legislation any time soon.