The Commons becomes a seminar – Rory Stewart v Jacob Rees-Mogg on ‘absolute’ human rights
Friday morning in the House of Commons took a surprising turn after the frenzy of the Eastleigh by-election. A Tory MP, Charlie Elphicke, introduced a private members’ bill under the UK would cease to recognize the authority of the European Court of Human Rights, which has become a Tory bugbear because of the ruling on prisoner voting rights and a sequence of cases where foreign born criminals have escaped deportation. Every speaker was a Tory, none supported the European court, and yet what promised a prolonged, one-sided rant actually morphed into an intriguing if slightly irrelevant philosophical argument between Rory Stewart, the former explorer and diplomat, and venerable Jacob Rees-Mogg over whether there is such a concept as an ‘absolute’ human right.
Here is an excerpt from Stewart’s argument: “We are in a sense deontologists. We are absolute up to a certain threshold, but there is a certain threshold at which a utilitarian or consequentialist calculus comes in…”
The Mogg’s response, characteristically, took the listener through centuries of history, including the snippet that “You may not be aware that until 1969 Henry VIII’s Act in Restraint of Appeals was still on the statute book, and it was treason to take an appeal out of this country to a foreign court…” For the rest, you will have to go to Hansard.Tagged in: by-election, eastleigh, Jacob Rees-Mogg, politcs, Rory Stewart
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