Open Letter: Nationality and Borders Bill

Honourable Ms Vicky Foxcroft, MP, Honourable Ms Janet Daby MP, Honourable Ms Vicky Foxcroft MP House of Commons London SW1A 0AA:

We are writing to you regarding the forthcoming Nationality and Borders Bill.

The proposed bill is a genuine cause for both anxiety and outrage amongst our community members.

The bill can only be described as draconian and in contravention to the rule of law. Not only will it make applying for asylum more difficult but would allow for the revocation of British citizenship on arbitrary grounds- without notice or the right to appeal.

Frankly, the introduction of this bill seems to starkly contrast the image of the United Kingdom as a fair and tolerant place that celebrates the richness that diversity brings to our everyday lives.

Clause 9 of the proposed Bill, ‘Notice of decision to deprive a person of citizenship’ is of particular concern. The idea that the Home Secretary could gain the unprecedented power to secretly remove a person’s citizenship, without notice or right of appeal is a horrifying prospect to our community members.

As we have seen with the Windrush scandal, justice in Britain is not always colour blind. And in an environment that is often virulently Islamophobic, we dread to think of the repercussions of the Bill for our Muslim communities and for the BME community at large. What kind of a country would we be living in if citizens faced the prospect of becoming stateless without recourse to the law?

As your constituents, we would like for you to express our outrage towards this bill in the most vociferous way possible. The danger to the rule of law and the grotesque degree of power that this would lay in the hands of a single politician needs to be challenged in the strongest possible way.

We all want to be a part of a society that values humans based on their merits and circumstances, to be a part of a society that values people’s rights based on their humanity and not their ethnicity; this bill would fundamentally undermine this spirit which is why we must thwart it.

Lewisham Islamic Centre

I hope you are well and thank you for your email concerning the Nationality and Borders Bill that is currently progressing through Parliament.

As you mention, Lewisham Deptford prides itself on its diversity and cultural vibrancy, and as such this Bill appears even more outrageous as an assault on civil liberties and rights. I have opposed this Bill at every opportunity as I do not believe it deals with the fundamental issues in our asylum system. It proposes unworkable solutions that will cost the taxpayer and it undermines international humanitarian conventions at a time when cooperation is needed more than ever.

The Government says the Bill is needed to stop dangerous crossings of the English Channel and to return people who travel in them. Yet Ministers have failed to negotiate a single returns agreement with EU countries and nothing in this Bill changes that. That is why only five people have been returned this year.

The Government claims the Bill will mean push backs at sea even though Border Force officials have said it is dangerous and unworkable. The Government claims the Bill will mean offshore processing even though no country has agreed and the cost to the taxpayer is huge. It claims the Bill will fix the asylum system even though it will add even longer delays to asylum cases being assessed. And it claims the Bill will stop trafficking gangs even though it reduces protections for modern slavery and trafficking victims.

I supported several proposed amendments to the Bill during its recent consideration in the House of Commons on 7-8 December 2021, including amendments to: criminalise those who advertise dangerous Channel crossings on social media; remove clause 9 of the Bill relating to citizenship; protect child victims of modern slavery; reintroduce a safe route for unaccompanied children; expand family reunion for unaccompanied children; and restrict the use of age assessments.

Regarding the specific concerns raised about Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill and citizenship, the British Nationality Act 1981 allows the Home Secretary to deprive any person of their British citizenship should they deem it conducive to the public good to do so. An individual can only be deprived of their British citizenship if it will not leave them stateless, where they are a dual national or, in some limited circumstances, where they have the right to citizenship elsewhere.

Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill would remove the requirement on the Home Secretary to give written notice to the individual being deprived of their British citizenship if it is not reasonably practicable. Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the use of citizenship deprivation and I understand that Clause 9 has caused a lot of concern, particularly amongst dual nationals and ethnic minority communities.

I believe Clause 9 is a draconian measure and I supported a proposed amendment (Amendment 12), which would have removed Clause 9, during Report Stage of the Bill in the House of Commons on 7 December 2021.Unfortunately, the Government made its opposition to this amendment clear and it did not get pushed to a vote due to a lack of time.

Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue, and I will continue to oppose this Bill wherever I can.

Yours sincerely,
Vicky Foxcroft

Vicky Foxcroft MP
Member of Parliament for Lewisham Deptford | Shadow Minister for Disabled People

Posted in Press Releases.