LIBERTY has warned prime minister David Cameron that Britain faces a “constitutional crisis” if it goes ahead with plans to repeal the Human Rights Act.

Speaking exclusively to The National, Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the civil liberties and human rights organisation, said: “The Human Rights Act is woven into the very fabric of the Scotland Act, just as it underpins Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement.

“The government cannot mess with the HRA without messing with those settlements – so a narrow Tory majority in Westminster imposing this on Scotland would be nothing short of a constitutional crisis.

“Our politicians face a choice: uphold post-second world war international law and universal human rights for which so many gave their lives – or pander to narrow nationalism and xenophobia, and diminish rights protections for every single one of us in the process.”

The ramifications in Scotland of the Tory plans to scrap the Human Rights Act have been widely discussed since the party swept into power last Thursday.

Christine Bell, Professor of Constitutional Law at Edinburgh Law School, warned that the bill could set up a clash between Holyrood and Westminster, as repealing the act would mean Cameron’s government having to end their commitment to The Vow.

Under current convention between the two parliaments, if Westminster wished to make “provisions that would alter the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament”, as the repeal of the Human Rights Act would do, it must first get the consent of Holyrood.

This procedure, known as a Sewel motion, is merely an agreement and not legally binding.

However, in the Smith Commission proposals, the UK government promised to make the Sewel convention legal.

Ultimately, the UK Government’s plan to repeal the Human Rights Act is incompatible with the Smith Commission agreements.

Writing in a blog, Bell warned that the incompatibility “raises the prospect of a very real clash between the Conservative Party’s commitments to revise and reduce the role of the European Convention on Human Rights in UK law, and its commitments to the Scottish electorate to implement The Vow, and, one could surmise, the real possibility of a clash between the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments.”

In the Scottish Parliament yesterday, there was consensus between the SNP and Labour Party.

In a statement on the General

Election, Nicola Sturgeon committed to defending “our human rights protections”. Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Kezia Dugdale promised to support the first minister: “The First Minister referenced human rights protections. Can I assure her that these benches will do everything we can to oppose any attempt the Tories make to scrap the Human Rights Act.

“Enacted in the early days of a fresh

Labour government full of hope and aspiration for the future, that Act embodies the civil and political rights which are fundamental to any liberal democracy.

“A threat to the Human Rights Act, in my view and the view of these benches, is a threat to those very rights. It must be stopped.”

Earlier in the day, concerns were raised about the Prime Minister’s plans to introduce new anti-extremism measures to try to combat terrorism.

Speaking at the National Security Council, Cameron said: “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.

“This Government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values.”

The law would allow security services to arrest those whose activities were the “purpose of overthrowing democracy”.

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Before the Government rushes towards introducing legislation, it must clearly outline what type of activities will be deemed as extremist, the process in which activities will be discovered, monitored and subsequently dealt with.

“Clarity on the who, why and how will ensure that the new counter-extremist measure will be targeted and aimed specifically at stopping those who pose a real threat to our way of life.”