Home Secretary Theresa May said Britons who travel abroad to attend terrorist training camps will be barred from holding a passport, an attempt to combat the threat of violence by home-grown militants.
In a written statement to Parliament in London today, May said British citizens have no absolute right to hold a passport because they are issued under royal prerogative in the name of the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Withdrawal would be used “sparingly,” she wrote.
Britain’s security service, MI5, estimates that British nationals account for three quarters of prisoners jailed for terrorism offenses in the U.K. Fifty-two people were killed by four British-born suicide bombers in London in July 2005 and the security services have halted a number of terrorist attacks being planned by young British men.
“Passport facilities may be refused to or withdrawn from British nationals who may seek to harm the U.K. or its allies by travelling on a British passport to, for example, engage in terrorism-related activity or other serious or organized criminal activity,” May wrote.
“This may include individuals who seek to engage in fighting, extremist activity or terrorist training outside the United Kingdom, for example, and then return to the U.K. with enhanced capabilities that they then use to conduct an attack on U.K. soil,” she wrote.
Apart from would-be terrorists, those facing arrest, bail restrictions, soccer hooligans or those subject to the Mental Health Act could also have their passports withdrawn, she wrote. Britons who are repatriated without reimbursing the state of the cost could find their ability to travel restricted too.