The UK will not turn into a "totalitarian nation" if it withdraws from the European Convention of Human Rights, the justice secretary has insisted – who believes the majority of his constituents are behind his human rights reforms.

Last week Mr Grayling, Epsom and Ewell’s MP since 2001, announced his plans to reform human rights law in the UK.

He said that if a Conservative government wins the next General Election in May, it will give the European Court of Human Rights an ultimatum to ensure that judges in UK courts have the final say on matters involving rights in this country, and introduce a Bill of Rights to replace the current Human Rights Act.

Mr Grayling said a new Bill of Rights would put a stop to cases such as those involving terrorists not being able to be deported from this country because of their human rights and give parliament the final say over such matters.

But his proposals have received fierce criticism from politicians, activists and those in the profession.

His party colleague, Dominic Grieve, ex-Attorney General, said Mr Grayling’s paper on the plans contained a number of "howlers" and that the proposals would damage the UK’s international reputation, while former Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, said the change would not benefit British society.

Speaking to the Epsom Guardian this morning, Mr Grayling said: "In the last few days, the Labour party, Liberal Democrats and those in the profession have said it’s all wrong.

"I disagree.

"I’m very clear we need this change.

"I am certain that the majority of people in Epsom and Ewell would say it’s the right thing to do."

The European Convention of Human Rights came into force in 1953.

It was drafted by the newly-formed Council of Europe to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms with greater international unity, in the wake of atrocities such as the Holocaust during World War Two.

The UK was a founder member of the convention.

The European Court of Human Rights, which sits in Strasbourg, was established by the convention and hears cases alleging that a member state has breached human rights provisions.

The Human Rights Act, which implemented the convention into UK law, came into force in 2000.

It made the convention’s rights available to UK citizens in UK courts and requires the UK’s judges to take account of the European Court of Human Rights’ decisions and interpret law, as far as possible, in line with the convention.

If a UK law cannot be interpreted in a way which makes it compatible with the convention, the UK's judges cannot override the convention.

Mr Grayling said that human rights law has expanded into areas which no one envisaged when the convention was written and that European judges are now using it as a "blank cheque".

He said: "The real problem is that the original human rights convention which the UK signed up to in 1948 is a perfectly expressed statement of the principles required in running a modern democratic nation.

"It was a response to a combination of the totalitarian regimes and brutality in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.

"The European Court of Human Rights has used the convention, which is fairly generally worded, as a blank cheque to expand it into areas of life which have little to do with combating totalitarianism and taking on matters that should be for the national parliament.

"The UK’s Human Rights Act created a link between our courts and the European Court of Human Rights and it has been used as a reference by our courts for the decisions they are taking.

"In the UK, if our courts decide something which parliament disagrees with, parliament can change the law.

"My view is that the public have had enough of this.

"Overwhelming, they seem to believe that the convention has been expanded into areas of law that it shouldn’t be upheld in and the rights of individuals who pose a threat to society are set ahead of those of society as a whole.

"In the end, parliament has to have a democratic override.

"Things like giving prisoners the vote and whether we send someone to jail for the whole of their lives should be matters for our parliament.

"In a whole variety of ways, the Human Rights Act has moved beyond the will of the people and the will of parliament."

When asked whether leaving the convention would damage the UK’s standing in international human rights, Mr Grayling said: "We have absolutely nothing to hide in terms of our upholding of human rights in this country.

"The president of the Council of Europe has said that it was inconceivable that the UK could leave the convention, but the fact that we are considering it shows there is a problem."

He added: "There is no idea that we are turning into a totalitarian nation by simply saying that we shouldn’t allow a court in Strasbourg to have the final say in our courts.

"It does not mean that we don’t support human rights."

Mr Grayling, 52, acknowledged that there is some confusion among the British public about the separate roles of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Union, but believes "people see rights and the EU as different".

"How come someone who is a terrorist can resist deportation from the UK on human rights grounds?," he added.

"It’s about putting balance back into the system.

"The Bill of Rights would enshrine the original principles and include a qualification as to how and why they are to be applied.

"For example, they won’t apply on battlefields across the world.

"Having cases brought to our courts against soldiers out fighting in Afghanistan is not acceptable. "

"There will also be a qualification about raising serious issues, not minor ones."