The Future of ‘Citizenship Policy’ in the UK

By Katherine Tonkiss, Agnes Czajka, Tendayi Bloom, Eleni Andreouli, Devyani Prabhat, Cynthia Orchard, Nira Yuval-Davis, Kelly Staples and Georgie Wemyss.

As the Windrush scandal has shown, when a person is unable to show evidence of their citizenship, the results can be devastating. In August 2019, the think tank British Future launched an independent inquiry into UK citizenship policy, chaired by Alberto Costa MP,  inviting experts to submit evidence. In response, one group of academics and NGOs came together to map an agenda for citizenship policy in the UK. This blog summarises some of their recommendations.

Some Background

Traditionally, UK citizenship has been associated with commitment to and participation in certain political institutions and traditions. More recently, increasing politicisation of immigration and emphasis on ‘national belonging’ have been linked to a shift towards associating the legal status of citizenship with socio-cultural interpretations of ‘integration’ and ‘national belonging’. However, these are ambiguous concepts and lead to different meanings of citizenship for those who are born into it and those who must apply for legal recognition of their citizenship later in life. (more…)

Shamima Begum: legality of revoking British citizenship of Islamic State teenager hangs on her heritage

By Dr Devyani Prabhat, Reader in Law (University of Bristol Law School)

Sajiv Javid’s decision to revoke the citizenship of Shamima Begum, the 19-year-old from Bethnal Green who left to join Islamic State in 2015, has been met with mixed reaction. While some supported the home secretary’s decision, others have expressed concern about its implications.

In these debates, there is much confusion about what cancellation of citizenship entails: whether this is just the cancellation of Begum’s passport, whether she is becoming stateless or whether she could be sent to Bangladesh because she comes from a family of Bangladeshi heritage.

In reality, cancellation of British citizenship means people can be left in limbo in war zones because they lose the right to re-enter the UK and to receive any diplomatic protection.

Begum’s case, while high profile, is not unique, and in 2017, there was a large spike in cases and the citizenship of 104 people was revoked on grounds where it was deemed “conducive to the public good”. (more…)