Almost 100,000 eligible Britons sought to hang onto their EU citizenship via a passport from their nearest neighbor this year, up from 81,000 last year and 46,000 in 2015, the year before the Brexit vote led to a sharp rise in applications, theguardian.com reported.
Anybody born in the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland, or with an Irish parent or grandparent, is entitled to an Irish passport — a total of about six million British citizens. They are able to hold dual citizenship.
Registrations for Irish passports in Northern Ireland, whose citizens can hold both an Irish and British passport as the province is part of the UK, rose by two percent in the year to the end of December.
A total of 84,855 applications for Irish passports have been from the North and 98,544 from Great Britain so far this year.
“We’re anticipating a significant increase again in terms of the number of people in Britain applying for Irish passports. Clearly, if there was a no-deal Brexit, that may well be a significant figure,” said Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
“We have to anticipate and prepare for that, and we are,” Coveney added.
With three months left until the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, the draft divorce deal reached between both sides is floundering ahead of a planned vote in the British parliament next month, opening up a range of possibilities from a Brexit without a trade deal to calling it off entirely.
British Prime Minister Theresa May delayed an original vote planned for earlier this month as she faced growing criticism from across the political spectrum about the deal.
However, many believe the agreement, signed off in an EU summit last month, has a little chance of going through the Parliament.
May has repeatedly said that Brexit will be delayed or canceled if the Commons rejects the agreement. Both she and the EU have touted the deal as the only and best option available for Britain.