Hugo Rifkind Hugo Rifkind

A sad new British status symbol: the second passport in the bedside drawer

It’s a sad new form of status symbol: the second passport in the bedside drawer

I suppose I could probably get a Polish passport. Both of my maternal grandparents were Poles, displaced by war and Holocaust. Neither ever went back, because neither had anything to go back for. So a passport is the least they could do. The buggers owe me a house.

There’s Lithuania on the other side, but that would probably be a bit of a stretch because it’s been over a century. A German passport might be doable, though, through my considerably, if not entirely, German wife. I daresay they’d let me tag along. Ja. Danke. Or a Scottish one, should the time come. When the time comes. Choices,-choices, choices.

This is the trend. According to the news — the crazy, swirling, never-ending news — distraught Remaniac Britons across the land are investigating the possibility of becoming something else, so as to remain, at least personally, in the European Union. ‘My advice is, if you are entitled to a second passport then take one,’ said Ian Paisley Jnr, that fervent Ulster unionist, meaning of course Irish passports, in an irony that rivals, but doesn’t quite beat, the notion of an ancestral Ashkenazi like me seeking the patronage of Warsaw or Berlin.

The Polish embassy reports a spike, and the German vice-chancellor Sigmar-Gabriel has spoken of offering dual nationality to young Brits wherever possible. And anecdotally — and I know how people love anecdotes; why have data when you can have anecdotes? — I have heard innumerable youngish, bleakish London professionals these past weeks speak of Spanish great-grandmothers, or Italian aunts, or Norwegian step-parents, and wonder.

It’s all pique and nonsense, obviously. You don’t need to tell me that. I know, I know. For one thing, nobody is actually going anywhere, whatever happens.

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