German Parliament’s vice chancellor has declared in a speech that young British expats living in the European Union should be given dual citizenship, so that they can stay when the United Kingdom leaves the region.
Sigmar Gabriel, who is deputy to German chancellor Angela Merkel, said at a meeting of the Social Democratic Party, held in Berlin on Saturday, that Britain’s referendum decision to quit the EU is “another reason” to back his ongoing campaign to relax the rules on dual citizenship in Germany.
Vice chancellor Gabriel, who heads the SPD, the junior partner Merkel’s coalition, suggested that Germany could offer citizenship to young Britons, saying they shouldn’t be “punished” by the majority that voted to leave the EU in the UK referendum.
“They wanted to stay in Europe because they know the world is changing,” Gabriel said in his speech. “It’s a good sign that young people in Britain are smarter than their strange political elite.”
More than 70% of young people in the 18-to-24 age bracket, voted ‘Remain’ in the June 23 Brexit referendum, according to the YouGov polling website, while 52% of the country as a whole voted to leave the EU, a point that Gabriel is targeting as he looks to capitalise on the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s ‘Leave’ result, to force through his plans for dual citizenship reforms in his own country.
“Let us also offer it to young Britons who live in Germany, France or Italy, so they can stay European Union citizens in this country,” he said.
German law normally requires that anyone applying for citizenship has to relinquish their old citizenship, something that Gabriel, who is also the economy minister, believes should be changed.
“Europe is the best place in the world for freedom, democracy and the chance of social progress,” he added.