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Majority of UK public want to remain in ECHR

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A majority of the public (52%) say they want the UK to remain a member of the highly debated European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), according to new research from polling company Savanta.

With just 27% of UK adults saying they think the UK should leave the ECHR, Savanta’s research suggests a “vast gulf” between the public and Conservative voters – half (49%) of whom say they think the UK should no longer be a member.

The new findings were taken shortly after prime minister Rishi Sunak indicated his strongest willingness to leave the ECHR yet (5-7 April), as the convention takes an increasingly prominent place in debates about how to fulfil his pledge to Stop the Boats.

A quarter (24%) of UK adults say they would be more in favour of the UK leaving the ECHR if it were to block the UK’s plan to deport migrants to Rwanda, while two in five (42%) say that it would make them more in favour of the UK remaining a member.

Of note, 11% of those who say they currently support remaining a member of the ECHR would switch to backing leaving the convention if it in some way blocked the UK’s Rwanda Scheme. Conversely, one in five (22%) of those who currently support leaving the ECHR, would back remaining a member if it blocked the UK government’s plans.

Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta said, “On the issue of the European Convention of Human Rights – and increasingly, many others – there is simply a vast gulf between the priorities of the public and of Conservative voters, putting Sunak in a very difficult position.

The prime minister’s increasingly belligerent tone on the perceived role of the ECHR appears to be backed by his previously core voters. The challenge for him however is not one of rhetoric, but delivery. I think it’s unlikely anything significantly moves the dial until flights start taking off to Rwanda. Even then, it might be too little too late.”

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