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Disability Rights UK Research and Manifesto on Brexit

21 April 2017

Disability Rights UK has been researching the possible impact of Brexit on disabled people’s rights.

This has included looking at UK laws that have a basis in EU law and what might be required to avoid aspects being lost or changed to the disadvantage of disabled people.

We held a roundtable in March 2017, attended by over 40 delegates from a range of disability organisations, including Centres for Independent Living, charities, Trade Unions and individual disabled people. To provide some legislative and policy context, we commissioned an analysis by Professor Anna Lawson, Director of the Centre for Disability Studies, University of Leeds.

We have also participated in other events on influencing Brexit debate and policy held by; the European Network for Independent Living, Thomas Paine Initiative, Equality and Diversity Forum, Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust and Cloisters Law Firm.

We are consulting on the development of the following ‘manifesto’ on what the disability rights sector should be seeking from a post-EU UK. We welcome further suggestions and input by email to tony.stevens@disabilityrightsuk.org (please send these by 5th May 2017)

Disability rights manifesto for Brexit

  • No loss of EU-based rights, including in relation to air and ship travel, web accessibility, accessible goods and services, public procurement and manufactured goods   
  • No regression in disability rights: no changes to primary legislation without parliamentary scrutiny (i.e. no Henry VIII clauses), no watering down of secondary legislation, no discarding disability equality rules and regulations as ‘red tape’
  • Continued commitment to being ahead of the curve on disability rights – fully committing to implementing the new European Accessibility Act once passed, building human rights clauses into future trade agreements and at least matching future progressive developments in EU disability rights law
  • At least matching current EU funding of DPOs and disability rights – this includes EU funding that supports 
    • a) disabled people’s participation and voice 
    • b) independent living 
    • c) other UN Convention rights
    • d) research on issues of importance to disabled people and with particular attention given to parts of the UK where loss of EU funding would damage the DPO sector
  • A full equality impact assessment of plans for freedom of movement, ensuring no disproportionate impact on 
    • a) disabled EU citizens living in the UK 
    • b) carers 
    • c) disabled British citizens living in other EU, and 
    • d) no detrimental impact on disabled people’s independence through reducing the PA workforce.

This must involve detailed scrutiny of plans for EU citizens in the UK in terms of rules about ‘self-sufficiency’ and requirements for ‘comprehensive health insurance’

  • Continued mutual recognition initiatives useful to disabled people - for instance badges to enable disabled people to park and cards offering other access and benefits 
  • Continued commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights 


Background resources

Brexit and Disabled People: Background Paper  by Professor Anna Lawson, University of Leeds

Video presentation by Professor Anthony Valcke, Supervising Solicitor EU Rights Clinic

5 takeaways on Brexit study on Brexit and citizens’ rights produced by the European Citizen and Action Service

Professor Anna Lawson presents her paper