June the 24th was a grim morning for Remain voters, and we’ve been working through the seven stages of grief ever since. Given that nobody has the faintest idea when, how or even if the UK will actually leave, acceptance is still some way off. But Remainers are a pragmatic bunch and many have now worked out that their own personal Brexit can be deftly avoided by taking another EU nationality. Likewise, UK citizens living in the EU, who have found to their horror that they are pawns in a very complex game of migrant chess between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker, are concluding that now is a wise moment to complete the paperwork for residency or citizenship.
So which variety of passport would we most like? Controversially, Belgium is the top of many Remainers’ wish lists. ‘Since the Brexit decision we’ve been inundated with requests,’ a spokeswoman at the Belgian embassy confirms. One very appealing factor about becoming Belgian is that it doesn’t mean renouncing being British; since 2008 it’s been fine to have dual nationality. Also, what could be a more personal way to maintain links with Brussels than swearing allegiance to the land of beer, fries and the Diables Rouges? But then if you’re a Remainer seeking a nationality that entitles you to a better class of football team, you could go for German, Portuguese, French, Italian or Spanish. (Or even Welsh, except that wouldn’t help on the EU front.)
Demand for Irish passports is so strong that the General Register Office in Northern Ireland has halted research work: too many people were requesting the ancestral birth certificates needed to apply. The situation at the German embassy in London has calmed down to a mere 50 citizenship information requests a day, two-and-a-half times the pre-Brexit standard. Just after the referendum, it was 200 a day.
Up and down the country, those with parents, grandparents or any other relative that might entitle them to a variety of EU passport are preparing to exploit their family tree — for the sake of their children.