Cameron Poised to Unveil Powers Making it “Easier to Take People’s Passports Away”

October 14, 2020 0 By HearthstoneYarns

David Cameron will make a statement to the House of Commons later today on proposals for new legislation which will “make it easier to take people’s passports away“.

This comes after a fortnight during which senior Tory, Labour and UKIP figures, as well as the Met police commissioner and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, spoke in favour of increasing the government’s ability to remove the passports of those with British citizenship who go abroad to fight with extremist groups.

On August 19 a video released online by the Islamic State (IS) showed American journalist James Foley apparently being beheaded by an IS fighter with a British accent.

At a press conference last Friday David Cameron said IS posed a ‘greater and deeper threat’ to the security of the UK than had been known before. On the recommendation of MI5′s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) the terror threat level for the UK was raised from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’ last week.

Writing in the Telegraph, home secretary Theresa May said the Government must ‘give ourselves all the legal powers we need to prevail’ against extremist ideologies. May added that she would look at banning orders for extremist groups where the legal threshold for terrorism is not met, as well as new civil powers to target extremists seeking to radicalise others.

In May this year the House of Lords voted through a new clause to the Immigration Bill, removing the restriction on making people stateless. The Bureau previously reported on opposition, from prominent members of the House of Lords, to plans to expand the home secretary’s controversial citizenship-stripping powers.

London mayor Boris Johnson said that for the ‘more serious risks’ control orders should be brought back immediately. He also called for a “rebuttable presumption”, whereby all those travelling to Syria and Iraq would be ‘presumed guilty until proven innocent’ of terrorist activities.

This has been met with divided responses. Former MI6 counter-terrorism chief Richard Barrett said: “This fundamental tenet of British justice should not be changed even in a minor way for this unproven threat’, which former attorney general Dominic Grieve agreed with, labelling Johnson’s suggestion ‘draconian‘.”

Dr Helena Wray, an immigration law specialist from Middlesex University, told the Bureau, “To put people in the position where they may have to prove something negatively in order to maintain their citizenship is fundamentally unfair, and I also think it’s flawed legally”.