The Tories are trying to grab new powers to strip people of their British citizenship without warning. The power has been attached to the Nationality and Borders Bill that is presently going through parliament.
The bill’s Clause 9 exempts the government from having to give someone notice if it is not “reasonably practicable” to do so. And it wouldn’t have to give warning if the move was deemed to be in the interests of national security, diplomatic relations or otherwise in the public interest.
The government’s removal of citizenship from Shamima Begum, who was pressured to leave Britain as a schoolgirl to join Islamic State in Syria, has already set a precedent. Now the government wants to go further.
Frances Webber, Institute of Race Relations vice-chair, said, “This amendment sends the message that certain citizens, despite being born and brought up in the UK, remain migrants in this country.
The reduction in rights began in 2002, under the Labour government of Tony Blair. It introduced measures that allowed British-born nationals and naturalised citizens to lose their nationality rights.
Successive governments gradually broadened the scope of those powers.
Recently it has been largely applied against British Muslims while they are abroad.
And the powers are already applied completely arbitrarily. Earlier this year a British man who was left stranded abroad after being unlawfully stripped of his citizenship won a court case restoring his rights.
The government was found to have wrongly assessed that he was entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship.
The man, known as N3 in court proceedings, had travelled to Syria as an aid worker. He was reunited with his wife and children after nearly four years apart.
It appears that the government could apply the new clause retrospectively to cases where an individual was stripped of citizenship without notice before it became law.
Maya Foa, the director of Reprieve, told the Guardian newspaper, “Under this regime, a person accused of speeding would be afforded more rights than someone at risk of being deprived of their British nationality.”
This latest assault underlines why the bill has to be defeated. Its central aim is to criminalise vulnerable asylum seekers. In keeping the borders shut, even rescuing a drowning migrant could be deemed illegal.
For the first time, how an asylum seeker travelled to Britain will determine the success of their application. Those travelling “illegally” will face deportation after years in prison.
Labour says it opposes the bill. But this is partly because, in the words of shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour believes, “The bill is an attempt to talk tough, but will deliver nothing.”
It passed its second reading in July. The DUP bigots supported the government, with all other parties opposed.
But it will take more than parliamentary opposition to confront the bill and make it unworkable.
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