Many constituents have been in touch to express deep concern over the Home Secretary’s plans to strip individuals of their British Citizens without warning. It has been good to hear from so many people, many of whom are contacting their MP for the first time.
I share your concerns; I strongly believe that stripping citizenship undermines the rule of law and is incredibly dangerous. Citizenship is our connection to this country, its history, future, and its institutions – and to democratic principles of which we are rightly proud. It is not something to be taken away lightly. As citizens in a democracy, the stripping of democracy will corrode the rule of law and sovereignty of Parliament and gives government ministers powers to deny their fellow citizens their fundamental right to a fair hearing. This is wrong. What’s more, this Clause is discriminatory – the New Statesman reported that nearly six million people in England and Wales could be affected, including two in every five people from a non-white ethnic minority background.
Frances Webber, the vice-chair of the Institute of Race Relations, said: “This amendment sends the message that certain citizens, despite being born and brought up in the UK and having no other home, remain migrants in this country. Their citizenship, and therefore all their rights, are precarious and contingent”. I believe Frances is right and this proposal is extremely dangerous for our democracy.
For background, Home Office powers to strip British nationals of their citizenship were introduced after the 2005 London bombings, but their use increased under Theresa May’s time as home secretary from 2010, and they were broadened in 2014.
Clause 9 would remove the need for notification altogether in a range of circumstances. It would also be capable of being applied retrospectively to cases where an individual was stripped of citizenship without notice before the clause became law, raising questions about their ability to appeal.
For these reasons, I voted against the Nationality and Borders Bill during its Third Reading in December. However, the Bill passed, and it will now go to the House of Lords where it will be debated at its second reading stage on 5 January.
I will continue to support efforts towards meaningful action to improve the asylum system, support those in need and bring criminal gangs to justice and voting against any proposal seeking to strip people of their citizenship.