On June 23rd, 2016, 51.9 percent of voters in the United Kingdom opted to leave the European Union. The surprise victory for “Brexit” narrowly edged out the 48.1 percent of UK voters who wished for the country to remain in the EU. In the wake of this new political reality, lawmakers across the UK and Europe are rushing to figure out what the next step is. Senior German politicians, for one, are suggesting offering young British nationals dual citizenship so as to not leave them out of the EU.
In a report by The Guardian, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel announced that he would bring up the idea of dual citizenship in next year’s German elections. While dual citizenships are forbidden in Germany to non-EU citizens, Sigmar believes this will help young British nationals who overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU.
“Let’s offer [dual citizenship] to the young Britons living in Germany, Italy or France so that they can remain EU citizens,” Gabriel said at a recent meeting of his Social Democratic Party. “It’s a good sign that the youth of Great Britain are more clever than their bizarre political elite…For that reason we can’t raise our drawbridge on [Britain’s young generation].”
The opposition Green Party is also calling for easier access to German passports for young British citizens currently residing in the country. This news follows reports that premier of the German state of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, told a German newspaper that “quite a number of Brits” are currently applying for German citizenship.
The Conservative government of the United Kingdoms called for a referendum to see whether or not the country would remain in the EU. The campaign between Leave and Remain deeply divided citizens and politicians across traditional party lines. Even Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron broke rank with some of the more vocal members of his party to campaign on behalf of the remain in EU side of the vote. Ultimately, the voters of the Leave EU campaign won, the British economy quickly went into free fall, Cameron resigned as Prime Minister, and Leave leader Boris Johnson declined to run for the Prime Minister office many expected him to take up after Cameron’s resignation.
In particular, younger, urban voters — along with voters from Scotland and Northern Ireland — chose overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. Older voters in low socio-economic areas voted to leave. Brexit was quickly met with a variety of responses from regretful voters who chose Leave, to calls for a second referendum many believe will yield a strong Remain victory. The Leave campaign has also come under fire for walking back on key promises they made during the campaign, including how funds no longer going to EU membership will be allocated in the UK.
Despite this, many Conservative leaders of the Leave campaign are making promises that the protected status of British nationals currently living abroad in EU member states will be a top priority for the exit negotiations. As of now the UK still hasn’t triggered the necessary procedures for a formal withdrawal from the EU, as Europe continues to reel from the landmark decision.