Dutch nationals who take British citizenship to avoid having to leave the UK after Brexit will be stripped of their Netherlands passports due to existing limits on dual nationality, the Dutch prime minister has said.
About 100,000 Dutch nationals living in Britain face an uncertain future after March 2019. The UK and EU are yet to reconcile their differences on the citizens’ rights issue, with Brussels describing the British government’s initial offer as vague and inadequate.
Mark Rutte told Dutch citizens in the UK who have considered becoming British to avoid residency problems once Britain leaves the EU that applying for dual nationality was not an option.
“Countering dual nationality remains one of this cabinet’s policies,” the prime minister said on Monday, in response to a petition with 22,000 signatures calling for a government rethink.
“This is because having a nationality is always associated with an actual link to a certain country. If at some point there is a question of a connection to the Netherlands or if the link to another country has become stronger than that with the Netherlands, Dutch nationality will end.”
Rutte made his intervention after the launch of an information campaign to advise citizens that they would be required to renounce their original nationality should they seek to become British.
The Dutch government has told its citizens that if they “have more than one nationality, it is not always clear what your rights are”.
The Dutch security and justice ministry website says: “For instance, your country of origin may require you to do compulsory military service. The Dutch government wants to limit dual nationality as much as possible.
Negotiating teams led by the Brexit secretary, David Davis, and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, are meeting in Brussels this week to try to come to an agreement on the rights of citizens, along with issues relating to the UK’s divorce bill and the Irish border.
Arriving at a monthly meeting of ministers in Brussels, the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, called on the EU to view Britain’s “very good” offer on citizens’ rights in the “spirit it deserves”.
“I’m very pleased that negotiations are beginning and as you know a very fair, serious offer has been put on the table by the UK government about citizenship – the value we place on the 3.2 million EU citizens in our country,” he said.
“The very good offer we are making to them and the security they can have about their future, I very much hope they will look at that offer in the spirit it deserves. Because it’s a great offer.”
Downing Street has said EU citizens already in the UK, and those who arrive lawfully during a subsequent “grace period” expected to be up to two years, would be given the opportunity to build up five years of residence. This would entitle them to a special category of “settled status”, conferring the same rights to work, pensions, NHS care and other public services as UK citizens.
A preliminary assessment of the offer by the European commission advised diplomats representing EU member states that the proposal was insufficient as there was a “general lack of clarity … many issues still to be clarified, no reciprocity, [a] lack of legal certainty, no lifelong protection against future changes of UK law [and] no directly enforceable vested rights and no European court of justice”.