The number of Britons taking up EU citizenship of another member state more than doubled in the year of the Brexit referendum, official EU figures show.
Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency, shows that 6,555 British nationals acquired such citizenship in 2016, up from 2,478 in 2015.
Germany was the biggest country for Britons to adopt the citizenship of, with 2,702. France and Belgium followed with 517 and 506 citizens each.
Other significant beneficiaries of British citizens were Cyprus, Ireland and Italy.
“We are seeing a Brexodus of people giving up their passports and rushing to take citizenship in EU countries as Brexit draws near,” Paul Butters, a spokesperson for the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, said.
“People have done this to give themselves some security. This should make David Davis ashamed that people feel they have no option but to give up their citizenship or apply to be a dual national. These people are giving up part of their identity to try to secure their future.
“The government don’t seem to care and their only interest is their ill advised ‘tens of thousands’ immigration target.
“The government dragged their feet over EU citizens’ rights and this is the real life manifestation of their tactics. The government should be incredibly embarrassed today.”
British citizens will lose the automatic rights to work and settle in other EU countries after Brexit, making UK passports less powerful. The government has, however, said British passports will be changed to blue, which Brexiteers claimed could not be the case while the UK was still in the bloc.
The EU referendum was held on 23 June 2016 meaning that any acceleration of applications for citizenship after the referendum would only have applied in the second half of the year.
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said in late 2017 that more than a fifth of all Irish passports issued in the last year went to people living in the UK.
The department in Dublin said more than 779,000 of the Republic’s passports were issued in 2017, a record figure, with 81,752 Irish citizens in Northern Ireland being among those who received passports.
The European parliament has repeatedly called in its resolutions for exploration of some mechanism by which British people can opt-in to keep their EU citizenship, but little actual movement has been made on this so far in talks – with such a system looking increasingly unlikely.
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