May wants power to strip terror suspects of citizenship

Home Secretary tries to head off Tory revolt on immigration powers with 'eleventh-hour' amendment

(Image credit: Getty Images)

BRITISH terrorism suspects could be stripped of their citizenship under a plan drawn up by Home Secretary Theresa May and endorsed by Deputy PM Nick Clegg.

The "11th-hour amendment" to the Government's Immigration Bill was tabled in parliament last night. It is designed to appease about 100 Conservative backbenchers angered by foreign criminals using European human rights laws to avoid deportation, The Times says.

The amendment, which could render people stateless even if they are naturalised citizens of the UK, was condemned as "irresponsible and unjust" by the civil rights group, Liberty.

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Tory rebels had warned of a "parliamentary riot" if ministers went ahead with plans to "time out" a separate amendment that would strip foreign criminals of the ability to resist deportation on the grounds they had a right to a family life, The Guardian reports. The amendment is supported by more than 100 MPs, including the former Labour cabinet minister Hazel Blears.

The Home Secretary hopes her amendment will act as an olive branch, persuading the rebels to abandon support for the deportation plan. Nick Clegg has given his support to May's amendment, saying he supported the measure on the grounds of national security.

The Times points out that the Home Secretary already has the power to take away British citizenship from those with dual nationality; however, "this change would allow her to make people stateless even if they are naturalised British citizens".

The proposal has appalled human rights groups who branded the amendment an "alarming development" which would give the Home Secretary power to "tear up people's passports without any need for due process".

Defending the amendment immigration minister Mark Harper said: "Those who threaten this country's security put us all at risk. This Government will take all necessary steps to protect the public. Citizenship is a privilege, not a right. These proposals will strengthen the Home Secretary's powers to ensure that very dangerous individuals can be excluded if it is in the public interest to do so."

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