The justice secretary has dismissed reports that the government wants to try and opt out of the European Convention on Human Rights, amid heavy criticism from opposition parties.
Robert Buckland, who earlier defended the prime minister’s Brexit strategy in a Sky News interview, said such suggestions are “for the birds”.
In an interview with Times Radio, he said leaving the convention would be “wholly wrong” and that ministers should focus on streamlining domestic laws instead.
The ECHR is a landmark treaty that was devised in the wake of the Second World War.
Its aim is to safeguard the civil and political rights of EU citizens.
But the Sunday Telegraph reported that Boris Johnson is preparing to withdraw from major parts of European human rights laws in order to ease migrant deportation cases.
Asked about this, Mr Buckland said: “The idea that we’re going to leave the convention is for the birds.
“You know, it was British Conservative lawyers who wrote the damn thing back in 1950.
“We wrote it because we were leaders of Europe when it came to freedom, we wanted to underline the importance of fundamental rights and freedoms back then and that frankly for me is hugely important.
“It is a badge of honour for this country that we did that.”
He added: “I do think that rather than focusing on the European convention we should be focusing on our own domestic laws and working out where perhaps we’ve gold-plated laws a bit too much in what is often an English Law tradition, rather than criticising the convention itself.
“Let’s see what we can do at home to streamline our laws and make them more responsive rather than suggesting that we should withdraw from the convention.
“That would be wholly wrong in my opinion.”
The reports sparked a political backlash, with Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy saying: “Instead of giving unattributed briefings designed to distract, the government should focus on getting a Brexit deal and defeating the virus.
“Any attempt to abandon human rights would make life in Britain less secure and hold our country back on the world stage.”
Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said the government’s “attacks on the rule of law must stop”.
“The Human Rights Act does not stop us deporting serious criminals,” she said.
“Threatening to weaken people’s ability to challenge the government just because the courts sometimes rule against you is the act of dictators and despots, not democrats.
“With these plans, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are trying to enable the government to run roughshod over people’s rights and allow ministers to break the law with impunity.”