Post-Brexit spike in EU citizenship applications by Britons


London (AFP)

European Union countries have recorded a surge in citizenship applications from Britons in the wake of the country's vote to leave the bloc, figures gathered by the Guardian newspaper showed Thursday.

More than 2,800 Britons applied for citizenship in the 18 countries who provided data during the first eight months of 2016 – a 250 percent increase on the same period in 2015.

Denmark recorded the sharpest post-referendum spike, noting a tenfold increase in applications from 30 to 300.

Italy, Ireland and Sweden also reported a sharp rise in applications following the June 23 vote, which has thrown into severe doubt the ability of Britons to move freely between European Union nations.

Applicant Ravi Bhatiani, who has been living in Brussels for nine years, told the Guardian that Brexit was the prime driver behind the spike.

"I started the application process on 24 June, the day after the EU referendum," he said.

"As soon as there was a risk to the freedom of movement and therefore a risk to my ability to work in Belgium and do the job I enjoy doing, I decided to apply for citizenship."

Sweden received the highest number of applications in the eight-month period, with more than 1,100, peaking in the week after the referendum.

Ireland earlier this month said applications for Irish passports from July to September jumped to 37,306 from 20,360 over the same period last year.

There are at least 1.2 million British citizens living in other parts of the European Union, according to census data.