Theresa May, statelessness and Hannah Arendt

photo credit: luiginter via photopin cc

photo credit: luiginter via photopin cc

The UK Secretary of State Theresa May’s call for new powers to strip citizenship from individuals who are deemed a threat to public order is now formalised in the Immigration Bill. Many have argued against this further erosion of Britons’ right to citizenship. In an excellent opinion piece in The Guardian (see also one on The Conversation),  noted that ‘during the dark days of the second world war, when Britain was in mortal danger, only four people were stripped of citizenship. Theresa May has denaturalised more than four times that number of in the last three years alone’. With the new Bill coming into force we can only expect even more British citizens to be consigned to the condition of statelessness. The relatively small number should not disguise the political significance of this move. The following passage from Chapter 9 of Hannah Arendt’s The Origin of Totalitarianism says it all:

One is almost tempted to measure the degree of totalitarian infection by the extent to which the concerned governments use their sovereign right of denationalization.

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