On 19th February 2019, the Home Secretary announced that Shamima Begum was to be deprived of her UK citizenship on the grounds that she was able to obtain citizenship of another country.
This raises the question as to whether it is lawful for the Home Secretary to deprive Shamima Begum of her British citizenship, if by doing so she were to be made stateless.
Under section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981 the Secretary of State may make an order to deprive a person of citizenship status if satisfied that it is conducive to the public good. If such a person were to be made stateless as a result of the order then the Secretary also has to consider whether there are reasonable grounds for believing that they are able to become a national of a country outside the UK.
In Shamima Begum’s case, it has been widely reported that she is also of Bangladeshi descent and may therefore be able to acquire citizenship of that country. This is of course subject to the nationality laws of Bangladesh.
What is perhaps certain is that there will be an appeal against the Home Secretary’s decision, the outcome of which will be widely anticipated and scrutinised. The citizenship rights of her new born son will also be of primary consideration.