The Home Secretary Theresa May has gotten herself embroiled in yet another controversy. And this time, it is a very shocking one! Theresa May included a controversial last minute amendment to the Immigrations Bill which gave her the authority to revoke the British citizenship of any individual, based on any grounds she saw fit. The only limitation was that she could not revoke someone’s citizenship if it would render them stateless. Thus, her power is currently limited only to nationals with dual citizenship.
A shocking fact which has recently come to light is her extremely free exercise of this power. The not for profit British news organization called “The Bureau of Investigative Journalism” recently uncovered that the number of citizenship revoking orders given last year were triple the number given the year before! Last year a total of 20 citizens were stripped of their citizenship. The magnanimity of this number can be put in perspective when you think that this number is larger than the total revoked citizenships of all the years except last year ever since the Coalition Government came to power in 2010.
The real kicker is that the ultimate authority rests with the Home Secretary. She decides who can keep and who is to be stripped of their citizenships. Likening citizenship to a privilege and not a right, she can choose to strip anyone of their citizenship if she judges that they are a threat to national security. According to the Immigrations Bill, the Home Secretary may revoke any individual’s citizenship if their presence in the United Kingdom is not conducive to the public good. Unfortunately, she decides who is conducive to the public good and who is detrimental to it.
A very common tactic employed by the Home Office is to revoke a citizen’s citizenship when they are outside their own country. This is a very common practice and leaves the ex – citizen stranded in whatever country they are. It creates a horde of problems for the individual as he or she is often unable to travel anywhere and his or her family also has to return to the individual’s home country. What’s more, the person has to endure protracted legal proceedings from outside the United Kingdom. The Home Secretary has often publicly supported this clause in the Immigrations Bill. Her Minister of State for Immigrations, James Brokenshire has also been very vocal in his support.
Another proposed amendment in the Immigrations Bill will allow May to even render people stateless. However, many leading immigrations lawyers have warned the government that this clause not only greatly damages United Kingdom’s public relations with a large number of other countries, but also wastes public money. They have deemed it illegal and unconstitutional. The controversial clause was debated in the House of Lords on Monday. There has been a public outcry against this law with many people accusing May of abusing her power. Most Lords MP’s have also spoken against the controversial cause. Whether the clause is finally included or not, remains to be seen.