Brussels, Apr 9 (AFP) The number of Britons becoming citizens of another European Union country more than doubled in 2016, the year the UK voted to leave the bloc, official figures showed today.

As the pro-Brexit camp waged a campaign in which fears of uncontrolled immigration featured prominently, 6,555 British nationals became citizens of other member states — a rise of 165 percent on the previous year, according to data from the EU statistics agency Eurostat.

Germany was the biggest recipient, with 2,702 Britons taking citizenship there — more than four times the 2015 figure of just 594. Sweden saw the number double from 453 in 2015 to 978 in 2016.

Britain will become the first country to leave the EU on March 29 next year and many Britons have applied for citizenship of other bloc members to be sure they will still have the right to travel and work freely in the remaining 27 states.

Anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain said the government should be “ashamed that people feel they have no option but to give up their citizenship or apply to be a dual national”.

“These people are giving up part of their identity to try and secure their future,” the group’s spokesman Paul Butters said.

Almost a million people were granted citizenship by EU member states in 2016, up by 18 percent on the previous year.

Moroccans made up the largest group with 101,300, most of whom took Spanish, Italian or French citizenship. (AFP) UZM UZM

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.