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Majority of Brits want to stay part of European Human Rights Convention, finds poll

Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, an anti-Brexit campaigner waves European Union and British Union flags outside Parliament in London.
Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, an anti-Brexit campaigner waves European Union and British Union flags outside Parliament in London. Copyright Kirsty Wigglesworth/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Kirsty Wigglesworth/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
By Joshua Askew
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The results are an embarrassment for the Eurosceptic newspaper that commissioned the survey.

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A majority of Brits want to stay in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), a poll has found. 

Commissioned by The Sun, a staunchly right-wing, pro-Brexit newspaper, the "mega poll" found nearly twice as many UK adults want their country to stay in the landmark international treaty, which protects freedoms and human rights. 

Members of Britain's ruling Conservative Party have threatened to pull the UK out of the ECHR as it has obstructed their highly controversial crackdown on migration. 

However, experts warn British citizens stand to lose the most, with the treaty typically protecting people who have been wronged by their own government. 

In the UK, the ECHR has helped secure justice for the victims of child abuse, protect domestic survivors and ended a ban on members of the LGBT+ community serving in the armed forces

When asked "should we stay in the ECHR", 53% of respondents in the poll said "remain", while 27% wanted to "leave". Yet, when the question was put to Tory voters, 28% said "remain", compared to 55% wishing to "leave". 

More than 3,000 adults were surveyed by the polling agency YouGov on behalf of The Sun. That's more than three times the size of most opinion polls, the newspaper claimed. 

The poll painted a more mixed picture of the Rwanda plan, which would see asylum-seekers arriving in Britain illicitly given a one-way ticket to the East African country.

Some 46% of respondents supported the policy, currently challenged in the courts.

Just 38% opposed it. 

More than 45,700 people crossed the English Channel in 2022, the highest figure since records began. 

Just over three-quarters of respondents (77%) in the poll said the government handling the "small boat" issue badly, compared to 12% believing it was managing "well". 

The Rwanda plan has been widely condemned as inhumane, illegal and very expensive, though the government claims it is necessary to stop people smugglers from sending people on dangerous voyages across the Channel. 

It is unclear how London's aims would be achieved with this policy, as observers point out that demand for smugglers is driven by a lack of safe and legal routes for those fleeing persecution to come to the country.  

Voters for the right overwhelmingly support the policy at 75% to 18%, according to the poll. 

The ECHR was drafted by British lawyers following the devastation of the Second World War. 

Forty-six states are currently signed up to the landmark treaty, which prohibits torture, slavery and forced labour, while ensuring people have a right to security, liberty and a fair trial, among other things. 

If a person feels their rights have been violated, they can take their case to the European Court of Human Rights. 

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The Strasbourg-based body can then rule against a state and order them to pay compensation to the victim. However, it cannot overrule national decisions or annual a country's laws. 

Only two countries have ever left the ECHR: Greece when it became a dictatorship and Russia, which was kicked out after invading Ukraine. 

The ECHR has nothing to do with the European Union, with 19 signatories not members of the bloc. 

Britain's wartime leader Winston Churchill was a staunch supporter of the ECHR, believing the treaty played a key role in protecting citizens from cruel and inhumane treatment by despotic governments within continental Europe.

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