Britain, once a powerful empire that many immigrants wanted to be a part of, now finds its citizens seeking greener pastures in EU countries amidst the Brexit crisis.

Britain was supposed to part ways with the European Union at the end of last month, but that didn’t happen, thanks to a three-month extension provided by the EU.

Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, tweeted: “The EU27 has agreed that it will accept the UK's request for a #Brexit extension until 31 January 2020.” 

He also warned the country that it may be its last chance.

Many British citizens are concerned about the endless infighting about Brexit, especially those who cherish being European Union citizens and are worried about losing their status. The British passport, once an all-access pass for the empire, is no longer be the symbol of power it once was. There are numerous articles being written for UK citizens about how to become EU citizens to keep taking advantage of the benefits.

There are measurable changes in Britons applying for citizenship in EU countries ever since the country voted to leave the bloc on June 23, 2016. At the time, there were approximately 1,300,000 British nationals living in the EU.

Spanish newspaper El Pais, using data from Spain’s General Department for Registries and Notaries, wrote: “166 Britons requested Spanish citizenship in the first 10 months of 2018. While the number is low compared to the 10,067 requests from Moroccans and 2,001 from Venezuelans, it is more than triple the 50 requests made by British nationals in 2015, the year before the Brexit referendum.”

According to The Week, quoting figures released over the summer: “There has been a fivefold increase in first-time applications for Irish passports by British citizens since June 2016.”

The number of new applicants from Great Britain has risen from 6,011 in 2015 to 31,099 in the year to June 2019.

The Week’s article from October 24, listing the citizenship requirements for multiple EU countries, also provided statistics for UK citizens opting to become citizens of other EU countries.

“Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures and national government statistics analysed by the Oxford in Berlin Research Centre show the number of people leaving for continental EU countries has risen continuously since 2010, with a dramatic 600% spike in ‘naturalisations’ since the Brexit referendum in 2016,” it stated.

The Guardian reported on Germany: “More than 17,000 Britons applied for German citizenship between 2016 and 2018, compared with fewer than 5,000 in the 15 previous years. The interior ministry received 1,506 applications from Britons applying via article 116 in 2018, compared with 43 in 2015.”

What’s more, the August 2019 article also pointed out that Germany would “ease the process for descendants of people persecuted by the Nazis to regain citizenship,” after a campaign by a British-based group called Article 116 Exclusions Group.

Likewise, writing in The Guardian’s Letters section in September 2019, a woman whose mother, an Austrian Jew, escaped to Britain in 1936, sought to expand the definition of who might be accepted as an Austrian citizen.

Amanda Hopkinson’s letter may have led to a change of heart in the Austrian parliament, which unanimously approved a substantive change soon after.

Hopkinson, in a follow-up letter penned last month, wrote that she found out the new law refers to its beneficiaries as “Brexit Opfern” (Brexit victims), which she wryly noted was not how she would like to see herself, but admitted how she appeared to “fellow Europeans”.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies