How to exit the EU without leaving behind your human rights

Posted by Bella Sankey on 13 December 2016

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union wasn’t a vote to abandon our fundamental rights and liberties – but we worry ministers may treat it as such. 

Many specific rights protections we currently enjoy are guaranteed by our membership of the EU. These rights must be protected when we leave. 

As the Government embarks on two years of negotiations, Liberty has set out five things ministers must do to secure our rights.

1. Independent review of EU rights laws

Hundreds of pieces of EU legislation relate to our rights and liberties. The Government must commission an independent review of every rights law introduced by the EU, as well as case law from the EU Court of Justice, to make sure they are directly incorporated into UK law after Brexit. 

2. Maintain EU citizens’ rights

The legal rights of EU citizens must be protected – they must not be treated as bargaining chips. British citizens should be given equal rights to have family members from abroad join them here. 

3. Protect refugees’ and asylum seekers’ rights

The Government should make a firm commitment to maintaining EU law protections for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. 

4. Tackle hate crime

Since the referendum, the UK has seen a sharp rise in hate crime, particularly based on nationality and immigration status. Ministers should immediately commit to overcoming hate crime and make sure it is effectively monitored, investigated and prosecuted. 

The Government’s hate crime action plan failed to treat hate crime against migrants and refugees with the seriousness and concern it requires – this must be changed.

5. Safeguard the Human Rights Act

After Brexit, the Human Rights Act will be more important than ever. This Government continues to call for the repeal of the most important rights protections we have. As part of leaving the EU, the Government must commit to safeguarding the Human Rights Act – a crucial tool for holding it to account after Brexit.


Negotiating our way out of the EU is an immense task for the Government – but ministers must make safeguarding human rights central to post-Brexit Britain.

Liberty is carrying out detailed research into the implications of Brexit for our rights and freedoms – and we’ll be doing everything we can in the months and years ahead to make sure they’re protected.