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Deprivation of Citizenship Status

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:35 pm on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 1:35 pm, 20th February 2019

I thank the Home Secretary for his reply. On the legal grounds to remove citizenship because it would be

“conducive to the public good”,

can he set out the criteria he must use to make such judgments on the public good?

As the Home Secretary knows, the law prevents him from making someone who is British by birth stateless. In November, the Home Secretary lost a case before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission on a similar decision made by his predecessor to strip two terror suspects of their British citizenship. Then, as now, the Home Office contended that the two had Bangladeshi citizenship by descent, but the court ruled that that was not the case and that stripping them of British citizenship was therefore unlawful. Will the Home Secretary tell the House what changes have been made to the decision-making process since that case to give him confidence that he is acting lawfully now?

In removing British citizenship, the Home Secretary is essentially saying, “She’s somebody else’s problem,” but in the words of the former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne:

“Which other country is supposed to look after her on our behalf?…
Can you imagine the fury here if we took a French or Italian citizen who joined Islamic State?”

Surely a British citizen, born in Britain, is a British responsibility. The Home Secretary mentioned national security in his answer. Can he explain what evidence he used to conclude that this 19-year-old mother and her new-born baby would be a threat to national security? Will he confirm that the evidence required to prosecute Ms Begum for supporting terrorism is readily available from the media? Will he explain why he is so unwilling to bring her to justice?

Finally, will the right hon. Gentleman please tell the House what he expects to happen to Ms Begum’s new-born baby boy? This child is an innocent British citizen, and we have a clear responsibility to ensure his wellbeing. What steps is the Home Secretary taking to uphold that important responsibility?