According to the UK Parliament website the requirements for becoming an MP are extremely lax:

People wishing to stand as an MP must be over 18 years of age, be a British citizen or citizen of a Commonwealth country or the Republic of Ireland

But has there actually been a single Member of Parliament who wasn't a UK citizen at the time of election?

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    More seriously, it's very likely that post the Good Friday Agreement, all republican MPs elected in Northern Ireland have Irish nationality (i.e. are a citizen of the Republic of Ireland), but I'm not sure there's a publicly accessible record.
    – origimbo
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 18:36
  • 1
    @origimbo As the question refers to "UK citizen" this limits the question to post 1948, as prior to that act, there were no "British Citizens" Prior to that, there were only "British subjects", and all citzens of the Empire were British subjects. So the question only applies to post 1948, and "before the acts of union" doesn't count.
    – James K
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 20:21
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    As British law recognises dual nationality, there are many who have been both British and something else. For example Nadhim Zahawi, the current MP for Stratford on Avon is has dual British and Iraqi nationality. And he was in the news when it was discovered that Trump's ban on muslims applied to him. Nancy Astor, the first female MP to take her seat was the American wife of Viscount Astor who came to Britain in 1906. But presumably by that time had become a British subject by marriage.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 12:31
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    Australia has the opposite rule: MPs there must have Australian citizenship, and only that – any dual national, even with the citizenship of a fellow Commonwealth country, is ineligible. As it turns out, people aren’t always aware of their second nationality, so Australia recently lost half a dozen MPs because they were found to be dual nationals, after years in office …
    – chirlu
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 12:58
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    @WS2 that may have been true at some point, but it is not true anymore. Here is the UK government page that explains the procedure for renouncing British citizenship: gov.uk/renounce-british-nationality
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 4:02

3 Answers 3


The info seems pretty hard to google, but:

  1. Catherine West, a Sydney-born Australian Quaker, has been sitting in the British parliament since 2015. It's not entirely clear whether she had the British nationality when she was elected, nor is it clear whether she has it now.

  2. This similar Quora question, has a few other potentially interesting examples, and might yield a few others in the future.

  • Any Australian would be entitled to sit in the British parliament - House of Commons or House of Lords, by virtue of being a citizen of a Commonwealth country.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 23:04
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    @WS2: that's precisely what the question is about: are there any examples of such that were not British citizens at the same time? Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 3:55

The wonderfully named François Joseph Marie Henri De Viry, Baron de la Perrière, a minor Sardinian nobleman, was born in London to an English mother, and himself married an Englishwoman, the daughter of the Earl of Sandwich. His father-in-law arranged for him to be returned to Parliament for Huntingdon, which he represented between 1790 and 1796, apparently without it being thought legally difficult - though adopting the name "Henry Speed" probably helped.

It was ‘perhaps almost a unique proceeding for an alien’, for though born in London, he was a subject of the King of Sardinia, whose house his family had long served. [History of Parliament]

He later turned up in 1815 as a member of the ultra-royalist party in the French Assemblée Nationale, representing one of the areas in Savoy annexed by France during the Napoleonic Wars. So he sat in two different foreign parliaments...


MPs without UK citizenship have been elected, but not necessarily sworn in.

In the 2017 election, 7 MPs from the party known as Sinn Fein were elected for constituencies in Northern Ireland.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, natives of Nothern Ireland may choose to have Irish citizenship, UK citizenship, or both. Sinn Fein campaigns for unification between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; its MPs do not take up their seats in Parliament, as doing so would require swearing an oath of loyalty to the Queen of the UK. Sinn Fein candidates almost certainly have not exercised their option to take up UK citizenship, and instead are entitled to stand on the basis of their Irish citizenship.

  • It might be worth investigating the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) MPs who sat prior to 2017 if a case of a voting MP is desired.
    – origimbo
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 19:58
  • Whilst I agree it's unlikely Sinn Fein candidates would request UK citizenship, they might have had it by birth. They might then prefer not to engage with the British state, even to renounce UK nationality. It's hard to be sure.
    – richardb
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 7:45
  • Sinn Fein candidates "interact with the British state" to the extent of standing for election to the British Parliament. (Also, they live in Northern Ireland, pay taxes, use public services, et cetera.) That being the case, I expect renouncing citizenship would not be a problem. Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 7:59
  • Worth noting that prior to the GFA, anyone in NI also got Irish citizenship at birth, as the Republic's constitution considered the entire island as the territory of the country. (and jus-soli citizenship was a thing until 2004)
    – bobsburner
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 16:04

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