The Impact of UK’s Isolation on Human Rights and Future of Democracy

Will withdrawal from the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU put human rights in danger? What aspects of civil rights will be exploited in the UK after Brexit?

The saga of nationalism v globalisation ended in the UK with its withdrawal from the EU and Britain isolating itself from Europe and the world. This tendency will lead to the growth of populism in the country and further threatens democracy. Consequently, civil and human rights are endangered, and equality for vulnerable people are no longer protected.

The United Kingdom struggled to overcome the hardships of two important matters in 2020. One of these is the global pandemic which has hit the UK severely, and the other is the Brexit deal which has finally been concluded. Both issues are the cause of big changes in the social, economic and political structure of the country. These changes define the future of civil and human rights in the UK. Also, people may experience a decline in democracy in the future. The UK had been an EU Member State since the early 70s and had adopted EU rules and regulations, including those related to civil and human rights and democracy. However, withdrawal from the bloc will gradually change the domestic application of EU laws and may raise fears of the government’s failure to treat all citizens equally. This equality comprises gender, race, age, citizens of four nations, and foreigners.

The Year 2020 Ended with the Serious Impacts of the Pandemic and Brexit in the UK

When the UK left the EU on the last day of 2020, Britain lost one set of important human rights protections, because it no longer has a commitment to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The UK Human Rights Act will continue to be applied, but withdrawal from the EU and the charter can leave the UK with a fragile human and civil rights structure as compared to the time when it was an EU Member State. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union has been applied since 2009 and sets out the rights which must be observed in EU institutions and among Member States. It establishes a broad range of social, economic, political and civil rights. The Charter offers standards like “a free-standing right to dignity and equality”. It emphasises that human dignity is not challengeable, discrimination is prohibited, every individual is equal before the law, and these matters should be respected and secured by all Member States.

The UK has a Fragile Human and Civil Rights Structure as Compared to the EU

In addition, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU includes rights that relate to trafficking, data protection, environment, and workers’ rights, and allowed people in the UK to take legal action challenging those domestic legislations which are not in accordance with basic human rights. Ultimately, there will be less human rights protection and a lack of mechanism for securing dignity and equality to stand against discrimination in the UK. Subsequently, without this charter, the UK will lose accountability for protecting civil rights. The relevant procedures will no longer be in place and there are no guarantees that the government will protect the general rights and equality of the more vulnerable people.

There Are No Guarantees the UK Will Protect the Rights of Vulnerable People Now It Is out of the EU

After Brexit, the UK Government is now free to change the quality of its legislation as there are no more outside pressures; so it is free to ignore the equality legislation. Nevertheless, this was being seen ahead of the withdrawal and the effects of Brexit were already tangible, because there was intolerance in society, and xenophobia and racism were seen in the UK. Investigating the impact of Brexit on racial equality following the EU referendum showed that minority groups experienced a rise in hostile behaviour from 2016, which is an existential threat to civil and human rights. Moreover, gender equality will be affected due to a lack of accountability as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the Pregnant Workers Directive which is to secure the rights of employed women no longer apply. Without the charter, part-time workers can experience unequal treatment, and without the rules protecting pregnant women, they may lose their rights due to negligence by managers. Hence, civil rights can easily be suppressed by employers while there is no mechanism for dispute resolution.

Gender Equality and Minority Rights Are Breached in the UK

The UK Government and Parliament have failed to preserve democracy among the four nations. In a democracy, people select their government, which will then act according to public interest; but only one-third of UK voters believe that the MPs consider public interest in their actions. In fact, Britain’s claim that it is a democracy is not really tangible. The UK Government made reckless decisions during the pandemic, which put the lives of people at risk. The majority of the money for the ruling Conservative Party comes from very rich people and these donors have great access to the prime minister. So, considering the needs of the rich to get elected has corrupted the UK democracy and replaced it with plutocracy.

The UK Government Is More Like a Monarchy than a Democracy

The current Conservative exploits the rules of democracy and has used tactics from the populist era. Boris Johnson sought to take over and govern institutions and take their powers into his own hands by bypassing Parliament. Also, the British system gives less power to voters, but more power to party officials. There is also an open style for the election of party leaders, so more populist forces rise in the country and voters can be easily ignored by the political party members. A decrease in democracy and gradual domination of populism has been seen increasingly since the 2016 referendum, and Boris Johnson has used the populist pledge to get Brexit done and form his cabinet.

Brexit and the pandemic have undermined democracy further in the UK. Dissatisfaction with the Government’s decisions has been widespread. Scotland and Northern Ireland are experiencing more harm, which is hitting jobs and the economy more than other regions. In the midst of the pandemic and an economic recession, Scotland is experiencing a withdrawal from the EU which is not in accordance with the interests of its people. Similarly, Northern Ireland is experiencing the failure of democracy by the UK Government and, due to Brexit red tape, it now faces disruptions in its food supplies and cancellation and delays in food shipments.

Scotland and N Ireland Are Not Satisfied with the UK Government Brexit Plan

After Brexit, the UK has entered a new chapter as a country independent form of the EU with its own independent rules and conventions. Thus, its actions are not monitored by outside forces. EU legislation protecting human and civil rights for women, men, minorities, incapable people and all strata of society, are no longer like before. The UK withdrew from the bloc and from the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union, so there are no more obligations or mechanisms to protect civil rights like before. Also, with Brexit and a surge in the pandemic, the Government’s actions prove that democracy is under threat in Britain and populism is increasing in political and social circles. The devolved administrations are not happy with the protection of their rights and the unilateral decisions made by the central government. All things considered, the fear of plutocracy has increased in the United Kingdom.

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