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Tue, 2 June 2020

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By Rosie Duffield MP, Neil Coyle MP and Bob Blackman MP
By Westminster Briefing
Press releases

Jeremy Corbyn condemns ‘extreme’ move to strip Isis teen Shamima Begum of UK citizenship

Jeremy Corbyn condemns ‘extreme’ move to strip Isis teen Shamima Begum of UK citizenship
3 min read

Jeremy Corbyn has said that Sajid Javid’s decision to remove Islamic State schoolgirl Shamima Begum of her UK citizenship is “extreme” and that she needs “support”.

The Labour leader said the 19-year-old, who fled London for Syria in 2015 to join the terror group, should be able to return to Britain to face questioning.

The Home Secretary was accused of bolstering his "leadership ambitions" by making the ruling which effectively bans Begum from re-entering the UK, where she has asked to return following the birth of her newborn baby.

Under international law, governments cannot make a person stateless if they are a citizens of a single country.

It was thought that Begum’s Bangladeshi heritage would mean she could claim nationality of the South Asian country, however officials there have since said she would not be allowed to enter the state.

Speaking on a visit to Brussels, Mr Corbyn told ITV News the teenager “obviously” had a right to return to Britain.

"She was born in Britain, she has that right to remain in Britain and obviously a lot of questions she has to answer but also some support that she needs," he said.

"On that return she must obviously face a lot of questions about everything she has done and at that point any action may or may not be taken.

"But I think the idea of stripping somebody of their citizenship when they were born in Britain is a very extreme manoeuvre indeed.”

He added: “Indeed I questioned the right of the Home Secretary to have these powers when the original law was brought in by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.”

The leader echoes Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, who said that making Begum stateless is “not just a breach of international human rights law but is a failure to meet our security obligations to the international community”.

A Home Office spokesperson said earlier this week: "In order to protect this country, he [Mr Javid] has the power to deprive someone of their British citizenship where it would not render them stateless.

"We do not comment on individual cases, but any decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are based on all available evidence and not taken lightly."

Tory MP, George Freeman, disagreed with the decision by ministers, tweeting: “I’m afraid that for various reasons I think today’s decision to strip Miss #Begum of her UK citizenship is a mistake & a dangerous precedent.”

The SNP’s Joanna Cherry, a QC, tweeted: “The actions of Sajid Javid may be in breach of international law, they lack mercy to an innocent child & are more about his leadership ambitions than security issues or due process."

The Home Office's decision was welcomed by Tory MP Philip Hollobone however, who told the Telegraph: “Well done, Sajid Javid for acting so quickly. This is exactly the right thing to do.

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