Keir Starmer accused of 'flip-flopping' after saying Shamima Begum should not be allowed back to UK

Sir Keir Starmer has been accused of changing his stance on Shamima Begum. (PA)
Sir Keir Starmer has been accused of changing his stance on Shamima Begum. (PA)

Keir Starmer has been accused of “flip-flopping” over his stance on whether Shamima Begum should be allowed back to the UK.

On Wednesday Begum failed in her legal bid to challenge the decision to deprive her of her British citizenship.

She was 15 years old when she travelled from Bethnal Green, east London, through Turkey and into territory controlled by the so-called Isis.

Then home secretary Sajid Javid revoked her British citizenship after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.

Begum, now 23, brought a challenge against the Home Office over this decision at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), a specialist tribunal which hears challenges to decisions to remove someone’s British citizenship on national security grounds.

ROJ CAMP, NE SYRIA - MARCH 14: British-born Shamima Begum from Bethnal Green in London, who joined Islamic State in Syria aged 15 in 2015, is photographed at Roj Camp, where she is currently interred with other women who were members of Islamic State, on March 14, 2021, in Roj camp, Syria. (Photo by Sam Tarling/Getty Images)
Shamima was told she was not allowed to return to the UK on Wednesday. (Getty)

Following a five-day hearing in November, the tribunal dismissed her challenge on Wednesday.

When questioned about the decision, Labour leader Starmer said the court ruling was the “right decision”.

He told BBC Breakfast on Thursday: “National security has to come first.

The court reached its decision, I support the decision. National security has to come first.”

Watch: Shamima Begum loses appeal to regain UK citizenship

However, Starmer previously spoke out against the decision to strip Begum of her citizenship and not allowing her back into the UK.

After Javid made the decision in 2019, Starmer told Sky News: “The decision by the home secretary, I think it was the wrong decision, I think it was a rushed decision.”

When showed a quote by ex-director of public prosecutions Lord MacDonald, who said Javid’s behaviour “is a recipe for refugee chaos and moral cowardice of the worst sort”, Starmer responded: “I think what he says is right.

“The home secretary needs to come to parliament on this and answer questions because I think there is a growing feeling that this decision wasn’t properly made.”

Tory MPs used Starmer’s previous line to attack him today in an attempt to paint him as someone who frequently changes his mind.

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton tweeted: “He flip-flopped throughout the pandemic, has abandoned the pledges on which he won the Labour leadership and now he’s changed his mind on Shamima Begum.”

Former levelling up secretary Simon Clarke added: “Once again, we see Keir Starmer switching positions when it becomes clear his actual instincts are politically toxic.”

The Tory press team simply posted a link to the interview with a series of flip-flop emojis.

On Wednesday, Labour frontbencher Peter Kyle told ITV’s Peston that should come back to face trial so she can either be treated as a “criminal” or “an innocent”.

“We wouldn’t have objected if she was allowed to come back to face trial. I think the sadness in all of this is there’s no definitive answer to the crimes she might or might not have committed,” Kyle said.

“National security has to come first but it’s a real shame she will not face trial and if she is found innocent, can’t be treated as an innocent, and if she is found guilty, she won’t be treated as a criminal.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23: Labour Party Leader, Sir Keir Starmer delivers a speech during the unveiling of plans for a
Keir Starmer said on Thursday that the decision to block Shamima Begum returning to the UK was ‘right’. (Getty)

Speaking after the judgment was handed down, one of Begum’s solicitors, Daniel Furner, said they would be challenging the ruling, saying the fight was “nowhere near over”.

Yahoo News UK has contacted the Labour Party for a response.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The government’s priority will always be maintaining our national security and decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are not taken lightly.

“We will always ensure the safety and security of the UK and will not allow anything to jeopardise this.”