"Across Europe, the number of Britons who seek citizenship in other countries is growing vigorously. This is an indication that the British are really afraid of being completely smoked out of the single market and thus losing the rights they have as migrant workers," EU expert Marlene Wind, a professor and director at the Centre for European Politics at Copenhagen University, told Danish daily Berlingske.
The would-be-Danes are mostly Britons who already live and work in Denmark. With Britain's EU membership revoked, they fear losing the benefits they previously enjoyed as EU citizens together with Danish nationals and are seeking citizenship as an extra insurance.
"No longer being EU citizens, they risk losing, for example, research support, the Erasmus program [student exchange] and the right to operate in other countries. Britons living in other EU countries are also unsure of what is going to happen with the rights they have earned throughout their working life," Marlene Wind said, citing access to hospital care, pensions and child benefits.
Sweden and Denmark are currently home to a British diaspora of 20,000 and 12,000 people, respectively. Although these figures may pale in comparison to the countries' respective populations (61.1 million in the UK, almost 10 million in Sweden and 5.6 million in Denmark), this may be just the beginning, Marlene Wind argued.
"As we can see, this is a trend manifest throughout Europe. If Britain continues its course to break off from the single market, this will become just the beginning of a tidal wave of citizenship applications in other EU countries," Wind said. "If people are fleeing the country at this rate, Westminster should obviously give it a thought," Wind concluded, using the "sinking ship" metaphor.
The BBC estimates that 5.5 million British live outside the UK. After 15 years, British citizens living abroad are no longer eligible to vote. The number of UK voters who voted to leave the EU exceeded those who voted to remain by less than two million.