With the process of Brexit underway, the number of British citizens willing to obtain a French passport has significantly increased. In 2017, 1,518 Brits received French citizenship and another 3,173 applied, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported, citing figures from the Interior Ministry.
The data shows that, 386 British nationals lodged their applications to become French in 2015, a year before the Brexit referendum, and the number grew to 1,363 the following year, in 2016, about 51.9 percent of British voters said "yes" to their country leaving the EU.
So, Brits becoming French:— British in Europe (@BritishInEurope) 10 января 2018 г.
320 in 2015
439 in 2016
1518 in 2017
???? in 2018 bearing in mind the process often takes at least 2 years.
As for those who successfully received French citizenship, the number was 320 in 2015 and 439 in 2016.
According to the newspaper, those applying for French citizenship are driven by practical reasons, including a desire to avoid queues in airports and to keep healthcare and social benefits after Brexit, but they also want to remain Europeans.
Brits would rather be French than lose benefits of EU membership. Sacre bleu! https://t.co/gVv1rO2OOe— Neil Coyle (@coyleneil) 11 января 2018 г.
British journalist Alex Taylor, one among those who received a French passport last year, wrote on Twitter, "A small personal victory over all of the Brexiters who did so much to take away European rights and European identity of some of us."
Ca y est! RV Préfecture ce matin pour chercher mon passeport français flambant neuf! Très fier:)— Alex Taylor (@AlexTaylorNews) 28 декабря 2017 г.
Petite victoire perso aussi sur tous les Brexitteurs qui ont tant fait pour enlever à certains d'entre nous nos droits UE et notre identité européenne:) pic.twitter.com/WIAcBwKcRa
France is not the only country to draw the attention of those British nationals who want to retain their European identity after the UK leaves the block.
In October, The Guardian issued an analysis showing that at least 17,000 Britons sought citizenship of other EU member states in the year after the Brexit referendum. Among the most popular destinations, the analysis revealed, were Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden and Italy.
"They value European citizenship and therefore they do not wish to lose this status as a result of Brexit. So gaining citizenship of (another) member state would guarantee their existing status and their existing rights," Dora Kostakopoulou, a professor of EU law and European integration at Warwick University, told The Guardian.
Estimates show that some 1.2 million British nationals currently live in other EU member countries.