Buying Yourself Out

Since the Brexit vote tens of thousands of British nationals have applied for foreign citizenships in order to cushion them against the fallout, and to maintain their sense of European identity. I’m one of them. Luckily Sweden isn’t a country that insists that you relinquish your original nationality before you assume hers (I’m going for dual nationality), but several European countries are.

For them, however, the Home Office has devised a trick to make the divorce less amicable than it might otherwise have been. They’ve slapped a fee on anyone who wants to give up being British; and upped it in the last week or so. I realise and have accepted that acquiring a nationality will incur a cost – for the administration, if nothing else; but it had never occurred to me that you could be made to pay for giving it away. This seems odd.

The motive can’t be to deter us from leaving; it’s too little (£300+ per person) to have that effect. It can’t be worth the money that the Government will get out of it; although I imagine the sight of us all scrambling to escape the Faragean tentacles of Brexit Britain suggested to a civil servant somewhere that it could be a nice little earner. It’s far more likely to add to our resentment, and indeed could even have been designed as a punishment for the ‘unpatriotic’. ‘No’ – (evil cackle) – ‘we’re not letting you go until you’ve paid for your treachery.’ That, of course, would be very much in line with the ‘hostile environment’ atmosphere that was Theresa May’s legacy to the Home Office before she became PM.

Here’s the news report: I wonder if it applies to dead former citizens. Or do they retain their Britishness in the grave? (Best place for it, I’m beginning to think.)

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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