The decision to deprive Shamimia Begum of her British citizenship has implications for every British citizen.

It shows just how easy it is for a Home Secretary to take away rights which we regard as automatic, including the right to live in this country.

Both international and national law say no country can strip a person of their citizenship unless they have dual nationality.

But if Sajid Javid is right, all a Home Secretary has to do is to think up some vague way in which you and I might, if we want to, acquire another nationality, declare it would be “conducive to the public good” that we are no longer British citizens, and voila, the Border Police arrive to put us on a plane.

So, suppose you are a keen footballer, spending your summer holiday summer holiday coaching deprived children in a Third World country.

You’re a good law-abiding citizen who’s never caused any problems in the UK.

While you’re away, someone with a grudge against you gets up a social media campaign that you are a paedophile gone abroad to abuse children, the tabloids fulminate about holidaying child abusers, dig up cases of paedophile football coaches and rant about the threat to children here, and a Home Secretary in search of a headline is told that you have an Irish father or grandmother.

Aha, he thinks, you could be Irish. Don’t want people like you in Britain, let’s strip you of your British citizenship.

Meanwhile in the remote village where you are volunteering, you have no idea what’s going on and only find out you are no longer British when the passport booth flashes red lights on your return at Heathrow Airport.

You may have no Irish connections at all.

It works the other way as well. Other countries could use the same technique to dump their undesirables on us.

Many Australian citizens have British ancestors.

The Australian government could declare its sex offenders, terrorists and other detested people may be entitled to British citizenship and load en masse them onto planes heading for the UK in reverse transportations.

The UK Government would scream “Let Australia deal with its own problem people” and do its best to send the planes back where they came from.

Don’t get me wrong. The case of Ms Begum is not an easy one and there are ways in which she could be a major problem to the authorities and the general public if she comes back to this country.

But like everyone else, she is entitled to decisions based on fact ,not rumours or wishes.

If we stand by now and let the Home Secretary pick and choose who may and may not be a British citizen, we open the way for politicians to ban anyone they don’t like from the UK on any grounds they fancy: political, racial, sexual orientation, even someone who gazumps them in a house purchase.

“Conducive to the public good” is such a vague phrase, a Home Secretary could make it mean whatever they want it to mean.

Stripping someone of British citizenship is such a momentous step it should only be taken as a last resort.

It should never be a knee jerk reaction by a politician wanting to appease the intolerant members of his party.

Had the Home Secretary had to go to a court to get permission to strip Ms Begum of her British nationality, the first thing a judge would have said is: “Prove to me she has dual nationality”.

The second question would have been “What other measures can be put in place to protect ‘the public good’?”

Only if the judge got a satisfactory answer to the first and was convinced there was no alternative would he or she make the deprivation order.

Furthermore at court, Ms Begum or anyone else facing the loss of their citizenship would have the chance to put their side of the argument and the whole issue of whether they are a danger to the public would be thoroughly investigated.

We need to deprive the Home Secretary of the power to deprive British citizens of their citizenship.