Yesterday, it was the Liberal Democrats, today the Tories. The ruling Conservative Party has launched its General Election manifesto, as Prime Minister Theresa May seeks to increase her parliamentary majority before the Brexit negotiations begin in earnest. Rooted in the idea of “strong and stable leadership”, here are a few key points to take away from today’s launch, focussing on the measures relevant to law students.
Brexit is again central to a manifesto, as the biggest political event in modern British history. The manifesto reaffirms the commitment to the Theresa May’s Brexit model, promising to keep the target of reducing immigration to tens of thousands after Brexit. The document confirms the desire for a smooth and orderly Brexit, leaving within the two-year time frame under Article 50, and enacting the Great Repeal Bill. Interestingly, the conservatives had included the idea that no deal is better than a bad deal, leaving open the possibility of Britain defaulting to WTO trade rules with the EU. The question of Scottish independence is also only going to be dealt with after the end of the Brexit process, should the Tories win on June 8th.
Despite Theresa May’s well catalogued disapproval for the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the manifesto includes a commitment to remain under the jurisdiction of the treaty for the next parliamentary term. However, the relevance of the Human Rights Act will be considered, hinting at the possibility of repeal in the future. The Conservatives further reiterated a desire that UK military figures will be outside of the ECHR framework when they go to war, which matches the previously announced plan to derogate in times of war.
Calling Britain “the home of democracy and the rule of law”, this manifesto includes a number of interesting pronouncement on legal affairs. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act is to be repealed, yet much of the current regime for voting in elections will remain the same. £1 billion will be invested into the prisons service, to create 10,000 new places in Britain’s crowded prisons. A national infrastructure police force will be created, to protect the key parts of Britain’s infrastructure.
Overall, the manifesto is in keeping with Theresa May’s ideology of trying to mainstream British conservativism. Widely seen as pragmatic, rather than optimistic document, the manifesto may anger older conservative voters as it includes big changes to the costs of social care. With a strong lead in the polls, it will be fascinating to see how the Prime Minister’s ideas play with the electorate on June 8th.
The full manifesto can be found here.