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Political Context and Meaning of British Citizenship: Cancellation as a National Security Measure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalLaw Culture and the Humanities
Early online date1 Jul 2016
DateAccepted/In press - 23 May 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 1 Jul 2016


This article places the court cases on cancellation of British citizenship in the context of the wider socio-political debates on citizenship. The political context demonstrates several potential arguments linking citizenship with rights which could have informed the court cases. However, an observable trend is that while some of the decisions flag various substantive rights, most fail to expand upon them. A formal, legal approach to determination of foreign nationality laws and
statelessness is evident in the cases rather than a discussion of rights and belonging. This illustrates how legal formalism operates to exclude important aspects of the meaning and content of British citizenship. By avoiding close scrutiny of the rights framework in the national security context the current cases support a minimal view of citizenship as loyalty in exchange for protection. This is reminiscent of the concept of subjecthood from the days of Empire. The article argues that intense proportionality review of the differential enjoyment of substantive rights would be far more revealing of the meaning and content of British citizenship.

    Research areas

  • British Citizenship, National Security

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