Ted Cruz Is Giving Up His Chance to Ever Be the British Prime Minister

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Aug. 21 2013 4:35 PM

Why Is Ted Cruz Giving Up His Chance to Be Prime Minister of Britain?

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Why lead a country when you could lead a kingdom?

Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images

Texas Sen. and former debate team stud Ted Cruz says he’s renouncing the Canadian citizenship that he apparently learned about from reading the Dallas Morning News over the weekend. This is an understandable political move. As my colleague Josh Voorhees put it, “the simple fact that Cruz could claim a Canadian passport or one day vote in a parliamentary election is unlikely to sit well with those who were already doing their best to dub him ‘Canadian Ted.’ ”  

But I submit that this is thinking way too small. Cruz’s Calgary birth makes him not only a Canadian citizen, but a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations. Not all countries are as strict as the United States when it comes to requirements to stand for office. One of those is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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According to British law, “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.” More specifically, you have to be a Commonwealth citizen who “is not a person who requires leave under the Immigration Act 1971 (c. 77) to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.” As the 42-year-old Cruz was a Commonwealth citizen before 1981, when a change in the citizenship law went into effect, he would seem to fit the bill.

So, legally, if he didn’t mind moving, there would be nothing stopping Cruz from serving as a member of Parliament or even prime minister. (On the other hand, despite what he seems to think, Bill Clinton cannot be president of France.) He wouldn’t even be the country’s first prime minister from Canada. New Brunswick-born Bonar Law served from 1922 to 1923.

I’m not saying Cruz would ever want to do this or that British voters would ever elect him. But why limit your options?   

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

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