AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Several hundred Britons gathered in Amsterdam on Monday evening to hear the city’s mayor reassure them that they remained welcome there despite their country’s vote last month to leave the European Union.
Multilingual and less than an hour’s flight from most of Britain, the city has long been a favourite destination for Britons looking to settle elsewhere in the EU. Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said he hoped this would not change.
“I think they’ve got quite a few worries,” van der Laan said after the meeting. “What will happen to my children? Will they be able to stay here, to study here, to live here? And that is a very fundamental thing.”
He said the city, home to around 15,000 Britons, had been overwhelmed by approaches from residents worried about their long-term future. Many were contemplating taking Dutch citizenship, which would force them to surrender their British passports.
“I don’t want not to be British, but I want specifically to be European,” said Cato Fordham, a chorus member at the Amsterdam opera who has lived in the city for 16 years. “Thinking that I am going to have to relinquish my British nationality - I don’t want to do it.”
Van der Laan told his British constituents they would be unwise to take such radical steps now, when so much remained unclear about Britain’s future relationship with the EU.
“I personally would never give up my British nationality in the circumstances we are now in,” he said, adding that he was optimistic that some of the “wild” scenarios involving a dramatic breakdown in relations would not come to pass.
But many were unreassured by his words, with several questioners describing themselves as “refugees” or “orphans” after the ‘Brexit’ vote which bitterly divided Britain.
“I feel much less loyal to the UK than I used to,” said Joanna Monkhouse, a businesswoman who has lived in Amsterdam for 12 years.
Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Mark Trevelyan