Another stealth Tory bill slips quietly past the public and heads straight through parliament
Last week, I saw a tweet that listed “all” of the Tory government scandals that have occurred over the past year. There were 20. A ridiculous number when you consider that these are the people who are supposed to be in charge. In any other walk of life, leaders typically set an example for those under their authority. But those norms seem to fly out of the window when it comes to the government.
The trouble is… the British public behaves much like magpies when they see something shiny. And who can blame them? With the media overloading us with daily distractions such as ‘the Secret Downing Street party’ and ‘Boris has his 47th child’, they may as well be shining a torch right in our eyes.
This tactic is not new. And it seems they’ve done it again.
So, whilst we were all gasping at the thought of yet more MPs breaking the very rules that they set out for the rest of us, the government was increasing its power.
Last month they made a harsh and potentially damaging adjustment to the Nationality and Borders Bill. Clause 9 states that the Home Office no longer has to give notice for taking a person’s British citizenship away. This would effectively mean that they are able to take away the rights of any British national, without them knowing, as well as denying them the chance to appeal against it.
Having progressed through the House of Commons, the changes are currently being debated in the House of Lords. Although they’ve not passed the law yet, it’s looking like it will go through, if we fail to act. I have no doubt that it was the government’s plan all along to have this one fly under the radar, so it’s crucial that we educate each other as much as possible to keep this from going ahead.
When Priti Patel describes citizenship as a “privilege” she is completely ignoring the fact that it is no one’s choice where they are born. How can citizenship for those not born here be so unstable, when we were only born here by chance? It makes no sense.
So why is this law so unfair?
This becomes clearer when we look at why people seek citizenship in the first place.
Research shows that one of the main reasons that people apply for citizenship is down to fear. Fear that by not having it, they will be subject to poor treatment or discrimination. For many, becoming a British citizen meant security at last in a country so determined to reject them. If this goes through, they are no longer protected.
And who will this affect?
According to The Migration Observatory, EU citizens are less likely to seek British citizenship than those from non-EU countries. This is for a bunch of reasons. One is that under EU law, (pre-Brexit of course) EU citizens felt more secure in their immigration status, so don’t see the point of becoming citizens. There are obvious problems with this. It would seem that how secure a person is in this country all hangs on where they came from. This makes it a race issue as well, given that most of the EU is white.
All of this suggests that even before this amendment has gone through, immigration law in this country already favours white people. However, if these changes do go through, it will make the extremely hard process of obtaining citizenship basically a waste of time, as it’s even harder to get and easier to lose.
Aside from the political implications of this amendment, let’s not forget the cost of applying for citizenship. As of last year, applying for citizenship costs £1,330 for adults and £1,012 for children. So, if it was snatched away with no warning, would this be reimbursed? Somehow, I don’t think so.
Not everyone in parliament agrees with this new policy either. Conservative MP David Davis has called it “an uncivilised removal” of people’s rights. In a recent speech, he criticised this extreme bill, saying that the people it stands to affect “would often face execution if they were sent back to the other country.” He alluded to the hypocrisy of this policy; allowing once-British-citizens to be subject to capital punishment, which most MPs claim to be against. I guess for them it’s out of sight, out of mind.
Even the U.S. government, one known for its tough stance on citizenship, has said that this is effectively a denial of responsibility for your own nationals.
Criminals who are born here are never stripped of their citizenship when they break the law. Anyone who’s gained citizenship has gone through the lawful process to obtain it, so taking it away, regardless of whether they have broken the law or not, is unfair. This policy just further reinforces the ‘them’ and ‘us’ narrative. It’s saying that even if you become a British citizen, it’s essentially meaningless. In other words, you’re never really a British citizen unless you’re born here.
And that’s not all. As if this wasn’t cruel enough, other proposed rule changes include giving UK Border Force staff immunity from prosecution if people die in the Channel during “push back” operations. Staff are currently being trained to force back boats of migrants away from UK shores. This provision in law says that should anyone die during these supposedly “safe” operations, they will not be prosecuted. You could not make this up. It’s like a real-life version of ‘Vigil’.
So, I ask, how does the government sleep at night, enforcing such extreme and inhumane laws right under our noses? More importantly, if migrants’ citizenship is so fragile, how will they sleep at night knowing that it could be taken away at any moment?
The petition to remove this amendment is below. Please sign!
Remove Clause 9 from the Nationality and Borders Bill
The bill: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3023
The Migration Observatory research: https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/citizenship-and-naturalisation-for-migrants-in-the-uk/