Saturday, 1 April 2017

Brexit and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

What difference will Brexit make to disabled people in the UK?

On face value things one would imagine that things would stay as they are; but we may be completely mistaken in this assumption. A great deal of today’s equality laws is based upon EU directives and European Court of Justice judgements, not on a caring UK Government (see below). So, disabled people need to be aware of what may lie ahead.

In the House of Lords the cross-bench Baroness Jane Campbell stated recently that she and fellow peers must be “highly proactive”, particularly noting the current Government’s wish that parliament should have little to do with Brexit. So she has warned that peers would need to be a “vigilant watchdog” as the negotiations take place.[i] She seems concerned that a correct process may lead to secondary legislation that may “bypasses proper parliamentary scrutiny” and disenfranchise millions of disabled people in the UK.

She also commented that disabled people needed to ensure their messages “get to the ears of the people charged with developing this legislation”. Many of these misgivings were voiced at a seminar where great concern was voiced ‘that many disabled people had not understood the risks posed by leaving the EU.’[ii]

This warning to disabled people co-insides with the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled Persons (CRPD). It has found unfavourable findings with regards the UK’s implementation and compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).[iii]  The committee has found that the UK is in breach of the Convention following an inquiry into recent social security reforms.[iv] "[G]rave and systematic violations” have been noted by the committee. The issues are in connection with Welfare Reform Act 2012,[v] Care Act 2014,[vi] and Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.[vii]

The Committee has taken note of concerns raised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.[viii] The Government does not believe that it is in breach of the Convention, but then again it wouldn’t would it.
Cite this article as: Fr. Jeffrey A.Leach.OSP, "Brexit and the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities" in Disabling Barriers to Church Blog, 1st April 2017,

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