Tory grandee Ken Clarke blasts 'populist' Sajid Javid over Shamima Begum citizenship move

Posted On: 
24th February 2019

Former home secretary Ken Clarke has launched a full-blooded attack on Sajid Javid's "populist" decision to revoke the citizenship of Isis teen Shamima Begum.

Ken Clarke said he strongly disagreed with the decision made by the Home Secretary to remove Ms Begum's British citizenship.
Credit: 
Sky News

The Tory heavyweight said the government had a “duty” to take the 19-year-old back to the UK to face trial as he accused Sajid Javid of flouting the rules in a bid to increase his popularity among voters.

Last week Mr Javid, the current Home Secretary, revoked Ms Begum's right to return to the UK as a citizen after she repeatedly refused to express remorse for travelling to Syria to join the violent jihadi group in 2015.

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Under international law, governments are barred from making a person stateless if they are citizens of a single country.

But the Home Office argued that Ms Begum was a dual citizen of Bangladesh due to her parent's heritage. Officials there have since said she would not be allowed to enter the state.

Speaking to Sky’s Sophie Ridge, Mr Clarke said the Home Secretary was intepreting the law in a “crazy way”.

"There are hundreds of Western European jihadists all in Syria, in camps, and some of them are much more dangerous people that this woman, although she is bad enough,” he said.

"And the obvious thing is that we have got to follow international law.

"Those who are citizens of Western countries, who come from those countries, have got to be taken back by those countries. Now, those countries must deal with them severely, if necessary, certainly for any crimes they have committed.”

He added: “The rule has always been you take back your own citizens. It is the rule the UK insists on when we send foreign criminals back to their states…

“Now this particular woman is obviously not Bangladeshi, she is obviously British and it is our duty to take her back and make sure she doesn’t cause any harm.

“And you can’t start saying to Bangladesh that she’s got Bangladesh parents so you’ve got to take her when she has never been there in her live. The rule is being interpreted in a crazy way.”

The decision to revoke citizenship from the teen, who is currently living in a Syrian refugee camp with her newborn baby, was heavily criticised by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who earlier this week branded the move a “very extreme manoeuvre”.

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

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

'NONSENSE'

Mr Clarke, who served in the Home Office under John Major, warned that British-Irish citizens living in the UK would be now be concerned about being made stateless if found guilty of a serious crime.

“You can’t say to someone who has lived here all there life, who is a British citizen, who is a British as you and me, oh you have an Irish grandparent, so if you commit a serious criminal offence then we are going to take your citizenship away from you and tell the Irish they have to take you back," he warned.

"That is all nonsense. The vast numbers of people have at least one foreign parent, or foreign grandparent, and it is populism just to take away the citizenship.

"The proper way of dealing with it is the rule of law, and the proper punishment, the proper security steps if that is what you want.”

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