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24 March 2017

A positive vision for equality and human rights in Britain

Government Brexit plans are showing a lack of ambition for equality and human rights standards, Equality and Human Rights Commission Chair David Isaac has warned.

Publishing a 5 point plan on how Britain’s status as a world leader on equality and human rights can be maintained and strengthened after we leave the European Union, Mr Isaac has called for the government to set out its vision for a fairer Britain once we leave the EU and demonstrate how it will take a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a shared society and heal the divisions exposed during and since the referendum campaign.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission argues that Britain has a long history of upholding people’s rights, valuing diversity and challenging intolerance. At this moment of significant constitutional change, it is important to set out a positive vision for the kind of country we want to be after we have left the EU. Building on our heritage of respect and inclusion, the Commission will encourage all political parties to pursue five priorities to protect and promote equality and human rights in the UK:
  • protecting parliamentary sovereignty over the UK’s equality and human rights legal framework
  • retaining the UK’s equality and human rights legal framework as we leave the European Union
  • ensuring the UK is a global leader on equality and human rights
  • protecting the UK’s equality and human rights infrastructure
  • promoting the UK as an open and fair place to live and do business
While each of these five priorities implicitly encompasses the issues of equal pay and the gender pay gap, it would have been good to have seen explicit mention of the topic, not only because this is an area in which the development of EU jurisprudence has played a key role, but most importantly because women’s economic independence is central to the achievement of equality of opportunity.

David Isaac said:
We’ve had calls for all kinds of Brexit. A soft Brexit, a hard Brexit and a red, white and blue Brexit. No one is talking about a fair Brexit - one that will unite the country and lead us to a shared society based on fairness and mutual respect the Prime Minister has talked about.
“At any crossroads there are important decisions to be made. We can either set out the positive requirements to maintain our traditions of respect for equality and human rights and be a country that really does work for everyone, or we can miss this golden opportunity to demonstrate how post-Brexit Britain can create a fairer and more united Britain.”

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