Citizenship for Remainers: Brexit-bashing hits a new low
The British public’s decision to leave the European Union has brought important questions of democracy, sovereignty and citizenship to the fore. But not everyone is happy with Brexit – it seems some Remainers still want to hang on to the EU by any means necessary.
Take, for instance, the open letter from 100 UK-based academics calling on the Spanish government to act in solidarity with, and protect the rights and citizenship of, Britons living in Spain who ‘did not choose the result of the referendum’. In other words, they want the Spanish government to protect the rights of Remainers. Such is the contempt for democracy and the Brexit-voting public (some of whom will have been British expats in Spain) that these academics think nothing of advocating citizenship rights contingent on political view.
In Germany, meanwhile, the Green Party has called on the government to fast-track dual citizenship for British expats. The German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has called on all EU countries to reach out specifically to younger Brits and offer dual citizenship. His reasoning was that ‘the youth of Great Britain are more clever than their bizarre political elite’. In other words, they voted the ‘right’ way – so they should have more of a right to citizenship.
Germany’s apparent generosity to its 100,000 British residents seems all the more absurd given the fact that there are 1.5million Turkish citizens living in Germany who have never been offered dual citizenship. And around one million Turks have had to renounce Turkish citizenship in exchange for a German passport. Up until 2014, children of non-EU migrants born in Germany couldn’t access dual citizenship, and were forced to either renounce their parents’ origin or forego German citizenship altogether. And even then, this was only possible if they followed strict conditions.
Of course, British expats ought to be able to retain their residency and citizenship rights in the EU after Brexit, just as EU nationals living in the UK should retain theirs. The vote must not be used to turn the lives of EU nationals upside down, or to cast doubt over their place here in the UK. Far from Brexit being a cause of heartache for EU nationals, it’s our own Remain-backing prime minister who refuses to rule out their deportation, understandably worrying many people.
But it’s not just EU nationals who are under threat. Earlier this week, the Home Office deported 35 workers in a sting coordinated with the burger chain Byron. Again, this had nothing to do with Brexit – 30,000 non-EU migrants are detained by the UK every year under our immigration laws.
After Brexit, we can finally begin to look beyond the limits of Little Europeanism. As for supporting expats who voted Remain, allegiance or indifference to an anti-democratic bureaucracy should have no bearing on our rights. Brexit offers us the opportunity to have a new discussion about immigration and citizenship. I for one will be arguing for an open attitude to migrants from all over the world, not just EU countries.
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