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With Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal deal rejected this week by the House of Commons, the future of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union remains as uncertain as ever. Possible scenarios include a further vote on the deal, an exit with no deal agreed, an extension of the time period beyond 29 March for agreement on a deal under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, and potentially a second referendum.

While the United Kingdom remains deeply divided on the issue, many of its citizens are making their own contingency plans, seeking to minimize any negative impacts of Brexit and to preserve the benefits of UK membership of the EU. Many UK citizens with rights to dual or multiple nationalities are seeking citizenship of the other country or countries where they have such rights.

Ireland, in particular, has experienced a surge in British applications for passports. According to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, almost 190,000 Irish passport applications were received from the UK in 2018. The figures for 2018 represented 12% of all passport applications received in what the department described as a record-breaking year in terms of applications, compared to approximately 136,000 in 2015. Irish Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibility for Brexit Simon Coveney has highlighted the marked increase in the number of passport applications since the June 2016 referendum and expects the trend to continue in 2019 in light of the continuing uncertainty in relation to Brexit.

The surge in passport applications has been accompanied by a considerable increase in British emigration to Ireland. According to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office, the number of UK emigrants to Ireland increased from approximately 16,400 in 2015 to approximately 20,100 in 2018. Consistent with this trend, the number of Irish emigrants to the UK fell from approximately16,600 thousand to 11,400 over the same period. Read more

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