Surge in British people obtaining EU citizenship since referendum, new data reveals

Germany is the most the popular member state for Britons seeking citizenship, with 7,493 people gaining nationality in 2017 compared with 2,702 the previous year

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Saturday 30 June 2018 15:14 BST
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What is still needed to complete a deal with the EU?

A surge has been recorded in the number of British people obtaining the nationality of another EU member state since the referendum, with German citizenship being the most frequently sought after.

According to new data obtained by the BBC from 17 out of 27 EU member states, 12,994 British citizens obtained nationality from another member state in 2017.

It claims this compares with 5,025 in 2016 – a 158 per cent increase – and just 1,800 in 2015.

Germany was the most the popular member state for Britons seeking citizenship, with 7,493 people gaining nationality in 2017 compared with 2,702 in the previous year – a 177 per cent increase.

The BBC claims this dramatic rise is consistent among many EU member states, with France the second most popular and Belgium the third, with the number of UK citizens gaining citizenship going up from 506 to 1,381 in the same period.

While the data does not show individuals leaving Britain for other member states, it does demonstrate that an increasing amount of people with European family links are taking up dual citizenship to enjoy the rights of EU citizenship before Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

This means these individuals will be able to move and reside freely within the European Union and vote in European Parliament elections.

Last year, data obtained by The Financial Times also suggested a similar trend from people living elsewhere in the EU applying for British passport.

It revealed that 13,700 people living outside the UK applied for a British passport in 2016 – up by over a third on the previous year and double the rise between 2014 and 2015.

Earlier this year the Home Office announced a significant climbdown in relation to the rights of EU citizens after Brexit, conceding that those who arrive in the transition period will still have the right to settle permanently in Britain.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said: “As we watch the Tories stumble through negotiations, the public are having to scramble to ensure that they retain their rights as EU nationals.

“Brexiters over-promised and it is now becoming clear that, particularly in the event of a no deal, there are far more benefits to remaining within the EU than leaving.

“A hard Brexit will make UK passports far less powerful. We must hold Brexiters to account- the people must have a final say on the deal and an opportunity to exit from Brexit.”

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