Disabled people’s human rights in further jeopardy because of Brexit


The UK government has tended to regard human rights as optional; as being rather more like ‘guidelines’ than laws, and often, as a mere inconvenience and barrier to the fulfillment of their ideological commitments.

Opportunities for disabled people in the workplace are likely to come under further threat unless government prioritises the recreation of EU safeguards into British statute. That is according to diversity consultancy, The Clear Company, which contributes to the government’s Disability Confident Campaign.

Former Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson has also warned that leaving the European Union would prevent British people with disabilities benefiting from plans to boost accessibility.

She added that Brexit would also risk a recession that would leave less money to be spent on support services. She said:

“Our membership of the European Union has had real, positive benefits for the millions of UK residents with limiting long-term illnesses, impairments or disabilities.

“It has helped to counter workplace discrimination, obliged transport providers to make their services more accessible and secured access to some UK disability benefits for Britons living in other EU countries.

“Not only would leaving Europe jeopardise these, it would close us off from enjoying the rewards of upcoming legislation that will further increase accessibility and risk a recession that would leave less money to be spent on much-needed support services.”

Fiona McGhie, Public Law expert at Irwin Mitchell, said:

“What Brexit would affect is the ability to potentially rely on the European Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR) which in particular includes many wider social and economic rights, such as the rights to fair and just working conditions, to healthcare and to have personal data protected. If disabled people wished to try and strike down UK legislation as incompatible with rights under CFR under EU law – that avenue may not be available after the vote to leave.”

In the wake of the referendum, the following is an official press release from ResponseSource, which is a journalist enquiry service that provides a press release wire:

The EU promotes the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society, in line with the EU human rights approach to disability issues, through priorities including accessibility, participation, social protection and external action. It works around a firm ethos that disability is a rights issue rather than a matter for discretion.

From an employment perspective, the objective of the European Commission’s European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 is to significantly raise the number of people with disabilities working in the open labour market. They represent one-sixth of the EU’s overall working-age population, but their employment rate is comparatively low at around 50%.

The EU promotes the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society, in line with the EU human rights approach to disability issues, through priorities including accessibility, participation, social protection and external action. It works around a firm ethos that disability is a rights issue rather than a matter for discretion.

Commenting on this morning’s revelation, Kate Headley, Development Director at The Clear Company, said:

“As long as the UK was part of the EU, disabled people had the benefit of EU frameworks and directives to act as a safety-net against British government and any power it may exert. Now, the future of policy which most affects disabled people is in the hands of Whitehall alone.

“There is no doubt that EU-derived laws, and EU-led initiatives, have had a largely positive impact on the disabled community. This may explain why Miro Griffiths, a former government adviser and project officer for the European Network on Independent Living, recently went on record to say he believed that Britain’s exit from the EU “would have dire consequences for disabled people”. Our priority now is to help ensure that the rights disabled people currently hold are protected post-Brexit.

“Aside from the issues of how the UK’s decision to exit will impact the NHS and wider care services, the European Health Insurance Card, and EU Air Passengers Regulation – all of which disproportionately affect those with disabilities – we must also look at the effect on disabled people in the workplace.”

“The EU’s record on assisting disabled workers is strong. Its Employment Equality Directive 2000, for example, led to the removal of the original exemption in the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) for employers with fewer than 20 staff in the UK, so that in 2004 it became unlawful for any UK employer to discriminate against disabled people. The employment directive also led to the DDA being changed to make direct discrimination by employers against disabled people unlawful.”

“The TUC has identified employment rights that could well be under threat from a government no longer required to comply with EU legislation. Many of these promote health and well-being at work and home, such as the Working Time Directive, which protects from stress and ill-health that arise from working excessive hours including health service workers.”

“I would urge the government, post Article 50, to recreate the safeguards that disabled people have benefited from under EU membership into British statute. We will gladly continue to support the government in the development of strategy and stand by our commitment to support employers and employees alike. Amid the avalanche of new legislation which will almost certainly flood Whitehall in the coming months, laws that safeguard and support disabled workers must be prioritised as EU law recedes.”


Unfortunately, the UK government has systematically violated the human rights of disabled people. It’s highly unlikely, given the current context, that the Conservatives will recreate the EU safeguards and incorporate them in protective legislation.

The new Work and Health Programme: government plan social experiments to “nudge” sick and disabled people into work

Prime minister dismisses UN inquiry into government’s discriminatory treatment of disabled people

The biggest barrier that disabled people face is a prejudiced government

The Government’s brutal cuts to disability support isn’t ‘increasing spending’, Chancellor, but handing out tax cuts to the rich is

If even the DWP isn’t Disability Confident, how will a million disabled people get jobs? – Bernadette Meaden

9 thoughts on “Disabled people’s human rights in further jeopardy because of Brexit

  1. Way to go depressing everyone especially those that actually voted to stay!
    Do you really think that you are providing a service by rubbing the salt into the wound? I get that you are angry, but stop making others suffer by telling them what they have been pushed into, even though they voted remain it is like slapping people in the face.
    I voted remain, now I am existing day by day! At least try to find something positive to give people and me a reason to live please?


    1. I’m a sick and disabled person, and my intention is to share information, not “depress” people. It’s because people don’t know what is happening to disabled people under this government, if they did, I am sure many would be appalled. So I’m also trying to raise public awareness as much as I can.

      I also voted to stay in the EU. I write blogs to share information, analysis, policies, research and ideas. To try and provide an alternative narrative and to influence policy-making where I can. And tell the truth. I sent evidence to the UN inquiry, which was very “depressing”, but sometimes we have to face the bad things that are happening. Half the reason that things are this bad is because people chose to remain indifferent. And far too many still choose that easy option. I can’t.

      So yes, I am providing a service. Yesterday I wrote a piece of satire that gave those who read it a laugh. Today I am sharing information that people need to know. If you don’t value it, you don’t have to read it. Many people do value it, though.

      It’s not about “rubbing salt into people’s wounds”, I’d never do that, because I have wounds of my own. It’s about raising awareness of what is happening, and about trying to push for a positive change. For all of us. I’m afraid of how things are going, too.

      Very sorry to hear that you feel low, you are not alone Joanna x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You Are Providing a great service Kitty!! I didn’t mean it as a confrontation, I am a jinx! Everything I vote for loses! I can’t even wish my only friend good luck for a job because he loses them before he gets them (many are short contracts).
        The latest one was for an internet company who has a monopoly over where I live in Hull.
        The DWP told him to leave his phone on during his interview, on the threat of being sanctioned, the DWP rang my friend during the interview losing him the job. I know it wasn’t my fault but I wished him luck! No wonder I don’t have any family! and I never have had!

        Someone said that now we have left, it will be easier the nationalise all that has been privatised?


      2. Don’t worry. And you’re not jinxed, just having a bad time, and so is your friend by the sound of it. Down to government sanctioning policies hun, not you.

        I voted Labour in last general election and also voted Remain. Yeah everything I want to happen doesn’t happen either. I wouldn’t care, I want what I know would be best for most of our society. I’m sure you do too.

        No, the Tories will continue to privatise as much as they possibly can. It’s not easy to renationalise once a service has been privatised.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Do you have anyone at all to turn to for support hun? Someone to talk to when you get down, or when things are just rubbish? Just wondering, must be tough going without family. My mum and dad are both dead now, miss them a lot still x

        Liked by 1 person

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