THE UK withdrawing from Europe’s framework on human rights would leave a “gaping hole” in Scotland’s devolved legislation and increase pressure for independence, an SNP MP has said.

Boris Johnson refused to rule out the option of ditching the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) after last-ditch legal rulings blocked the Tory Government’s plans to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Downing Street has also said all options are on the table and failed to rule out withdrawing from the convention.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told MPs that three of the asylum seekers set to be on the first flight to Rwanda on Tuesday night had their removal blocked by the Strasbourg-based court, which interprets the ECHR.

READ MORE: European Court of Human Rights: how it grounded the Rwanda flight

Asked if the Government could withdraw from the ECHR, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are keeping all options on the table including any further legal reforms that may be necessary.

“We will look at all of the legislation and processes in this round.”

Speaking following a visit to Strasbourg, Joanna Cherry QC (below) said officials and parliamentarians are “watching the situation closely” - particularly in relation to Scotland and Northern Ireland – where it is a key part of the Good Friday Agreement.

The National:

She said the UK leaving the ECHR would increase pressure for both Scottish independence and Irish reunification.

Cherry told The National: “It’s quite clear that if the UK left the ECHR, it would leave a gaping hole in the Scotland Act which incorporates the convention into the domestic law of Scotland in so far as devolved matters are concerned and breach the Good Friday Agreement which is a treaty binding on the UK under international law.

The National:

“I’ve just returned from Strasbourg where I was leading a visit by a delegation of Westminster’s Joint Committee of Human Rights to the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.

“We were repeatedly told that if the UK were to leave the ECHR it would send the wrong message to countries in Eastern Europe who wish to water down their human rights protections.

“Russia, now expelled from the Council of Europe because of the invasion of Ukraine, has already founded on the UK Government’s antipathy to the convention to justify their own attempts to ignore the human rights protections they once signed up to.”

READ MORE: UK Government already preparing replacement Rwanda flight after ECHR ruling

Cherry said the delegation had also heard that in recent months UK ministers have given “repeated assurances” to Council of Europe officials that they will not withdraw from the ECHR.

She said: “If they break their word on this significant damage will be done to the UK’s reputation internationally.

“Given their willingness to breach other international treaty obligations in relation to the Northern Irish Protocol and Boris Johnson’s track record there is every chance that this will happen.”

She added: “Officials and parliamentarians at the Council of Europe are watching the situation in the UK closely with great attention to the position in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“They are aware that the Scottish Government are committed to extending, not rolling back, human rights protections.

“A very senior parliamentarian there told me in his opinion if the UK left the ECHR, it would strengthen the case for Scottish independence.”

READ MORE: Home Office Rwanda flight GROUNDED – as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issues warning

Following the failure of the flight to take off, a succession of Tory MPs pushed for the UK to withdraw from the ECHR and the jurisdiction of the Strasbourg court.

This included Alexander Stafford, who condemned the “despicable ruling from the foreign European Court of Justice” while Sir Desmond Swayne said: “We are going to have to grasp the nettle and extend the principle of ‘taking back control’ to the convention.”

Attorney General Suella Braverman (below) also said many people would be frustrated at the role played by a “foreign court”.

The National:

Pressed on whether withdrawing from the ECHR was a possibility, she told the BBC’s World At One programme: “We’re not ruling anything in and we’re not ruling anything out.”

She added: “We are definitely open to assessing all options available as to what our relationship should be going forward with the European Court of Human Rights.”

But Charlie Whelton, policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, warned the fallout of withdrawing from the ECHR would be “catastrophic”.

He said: “The ECHR is fundamentally intertwined with the Good Friday Agreement, which requires that the convention be directly enforceable in Northern Ireland. Leaving the ECHR would self-evidentially breach this and threaten the peace settlement.

“Furthermore, the ECHR is woven into the devolution settlement in both Northern Ireland and Scotland, with the Northern Ireland Act and Scotland Act both requiring that ministers act compatibly with convention rights.”

He added: “The UK has been a longstanding signatory to the ECHR. Should the UK Government withdraw from the ECHR, that would make the UK the first country to voluntarily withdraw, and will have a damaging impact on its international reputation, while potentially providing license to other countries to renege on their obligations.

“The most recent country to cease to be a party of the European Convention is Russia, after its invasion of Ukraine.”