UK Supreme Court and statelessness

David Cameron outlining plans, this week, to stop ‘jihadists’ entering the UK temporarily, and to stop would-be ‘jihadists’ leaving. This is a development of the discussion that has taken place over ‘stateless’ citizens. Initially, the plans were to remove British citizenship from such individual, but the legality of this in international law was questioned. This plan doesn’t do that, but provides a more temporary stop.

However the Supreme Court is now hearing an appeal from a Vietnamese man who has said that his British citizenship has been removed by the British government, which has left him stateless. He is therefore appealing this decision. This is both a great example of the role of the Supreme Court within UK politics, as well as a demonstration of the growth of importance, in the media at least, since the separation of legislative and judiciary in 2009. Importantly, it is a demonstration of the judiciary and the government disagreeing with one another – this antagonism has both been a more public feature of UK politics since the separation as well as a common exam question. Key to remember however is that, unlike the US Supreme Court, in the UK the courts have no actual power over government, and if they were to rule against them, the government could ignore them (think about linking this to democracy in the UK). Nonetheless, it is outstandingly rare that this occurs, and higher level students should stress the difference between the theory and the reality in UK politics.