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This has profound implications not just for Britain, and not just the European project, but for everyone who wonders what citizenship means in a world full of tribes living among each other.
Immigrants who do not think of themselves as such don’t really exist in history, because you usually need permission to be in someone else’s country.
“After 2004 occurred the biggest influx of immigration in English history, causing the fastest increase in population ever recorded,” the historian Robert Tombs has noted.
Even now, the UK chooses to let in more people from outside of Europe than come from within the bloc.
Before 1708, when Britain passed the Foreign Protestants Naturalization Act (pdf)—to give asylum to French Huguenots fleeing Catholic persecution—a foreigner could become a British citizen only through a private act of Parliament or by petitioning the king.