Daniel Finkelstein writes in The Times about why he won’t be joining the rush for dual nationality (£) among those Britons who fear for their country’s future. Like me, he is the son of a refugee from the Nazis and perhaps this explains why he is able to define clearly, while not sharing them, the motivations of those – like me – who are exercising their right to another nationality:
“Their application is a sort of protest against Brexit and an insurance policy in case Brexit presages a less tolerant Britain or a calamitously poor one. And there are also some Jews who worry about a Corbyn government.”
He recalls in his childhood reading with his mother about the kings and queens of England:
“Only as an adult have I reflected that when the Tudor monarchs reigned, or even the Georgians, my family wasn’t here. We lived under distant emperors. But still, I reflect, we chose these great Britons and they chose us. Their countrymen gave us a home and our liberty and peace. And I’m never going to be part of something else.”
I can certainly relate to this sentiment. My father recalls his arrival at Dover in 1939 when he was eleven years old and had escaped with his parents from Czechoslovakia after it was occupied by the Nazis:
“There were no inquisitions into whether we had any rights to be entering Britain, or the type of unwelcoming unpleasantness present-day refugees and immigrants have to experience. There was no waiting about while officials decided whether we were to be allowed to enter the country. Quite simply: we were welcomed and that was that, and we were very, very grateful to be in England.”
That gratitude to the UK has stuck with him to this day and certainly informs my own attachment to this country.