Foreign Policy Digital

The Great British Race to Get a Second Passport

As hard Brexit looms ever larger on the horizon, British citizens who want to keep living in Europe are taking matters into their own hands.

For the vast majority of British citizens who oppose a no-deal Brexit, the state of play in Parliament is dismaying. Although many members of Parliament are resolutely opposed to the United Kingdom crashing out of the European Union come March 29, the reality remains that no deal is their default option: Should Prime Minister Theresa May be unable to find support for her withdrawal agreement—which, by every indication, will be the case—Britain will have no choice but to leave the EU on the severest of terms.

Among the most vulnerable in this scenario are the 1.3 million British citizens currently living in Europe. They would have only a year and change to reorganize their lives, until December 2020, when the Brexit transition period ends and their rights to remain expire. A number of advocacy groups have joined together in a coalition called in order to raise awareness and lobby lawmakers. But, , (Remain in France Together), (British Immigrants Living in Luxembourg), and others—have struggled like everyone else to move the needle. For its part, the EU has member states to “take a generous approach to the rights of UK citizens in the EU, provided that this approach is reciprocated by the UK.” Whether the U.K. will ultimately reciprocate, seeing as the free movement of people was a lightning rod of the Brexit referendum, is far from guaranteed.

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