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Brexit a driver in rise of English and Welsh people holding Irish passports, UK figures suggest

Figures show a five-fold increase in people born in England and Wales holding both British and Irish passports.

THE NUMBER OF UK-born residents in England and Wales holding an Irish passport has increased five-fold since 2011, with the rise thought to be partly down to Brexit.

While the change has been partly driven by migration over the decade, with more people moving to the UK from the EU, it is also thought more people have taken up additional passports after Brexit, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The majority – 84.4% or 50.3 million – of usual UK residents across England Wales held only one passport in 2021, according to an analysis of UK Census 2021 figures.

While the number of UK/EU passports held increased by five times over the 10-year period for UK-born residents of England and Wales, there had been a three-fold rise for non-UK-born residents since 2011.

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The rise in dual citizens may also suggest greater uptake of additional passports following the end of free movement when the UK left the European Union

Jay Lindop, from the ONS, said: “The number of people with dual citizenship has doubled since 2011, with more than 1.2 million usual residents in England and Wales now holding multiple passports.

“This change has been partly driven by migration over the decade, with an increase in people moving here from the EU. As people who have settled in England and Wales go on to have children, we can see an increase in dual citizenship among the younger ages.

“The rise in dual citizens may also suggest greater uptake of additional passports following the end of free movement when the UK left the European Union.”

There were age differences among dual citizens, with the rise in UK-born British and European dual citizens driven by younger age groups, but British/Irish passport holders being older, the ONS said.

More than half (58.7%) of dual citizens born in the UK and holding both UK and EU passports were aged under 16, while just over a third (36.7%) of UK and non-EU dual citizens were under 16.

Non-EU dual citizens had a median age of 22, and UK/Irish dual citizens were older, with a median age of 47.

For Irish-only passport holders, the median age was 33.

A rise in UK/Irish dual citizens across the decade was most apparent in those aged 50 to 70-years-old, the ONS said, adding that this suggested many only took up their dual nationality more recently despite moving to England and Wales years ago.

The top five UK/EU passports for UK-born dual citizens were primarily held by children or young adults, with Ireland having the only older population, the ONS said.

The statistics body said the reasons for holding multiple passports were likely to differ between those who held a UK passport first and those who held a non-UK passport first, noting that the census did not collect data on when passports were acquired.

Looking more closely at the areas where dual citizens are based in the two nations, the ONS found that more than a third (39.1%) of all UK-born holders of UK and EU passports in England and Wales were living in London at the time of the 2021 census.

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Press Association
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