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Number of Britons seeking German citizenship leaps in 2016 as Brexit vote takes toll

Specimens of the German new electronic passports are pictured during a presentation to the media in Berlin, Germany, February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - The number of Britons who became German citizens leapt 361 percent in 2016, the Federal Statistics Office said on Tuesday, with many concerned that the vote will make it more difficult for them to live and work in the European Union in future.

In total, 2,865 Britons took German citizenship last year, the office said. The rise is likely to be far greater this year as it takes several months to obtain a German passport.

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“The link to Brexit seems clear,” said the Office.

Some Britons may be concerned that Britain will make a hard Brexit, leaving it outside the single market and with limited freedom of movement in the bloc.

Britain is due to leave the European Union in 2019, but last week’s election disaster for Theresa May, who remains Prime Minister but without an overall majority in parliament, has raised questions over what kind of a Brexit deal will be agreed.

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The Office said a total of 110,400 foreigners took up German citizenship last year, a 2.9 percent increase from the previous year, with the biggest rate of rise among Britons.

The largest group of people taking up German citizenship came from Turkey although the total of 16,290 was down 17.3 percent from last year. Some 6,632 Poles became Germans in 2016, an increase of 11.3 percent.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Hugh Lawson