Under the British Nationality Act 1948, citizens of the Commonwealth retained their status as British subjects but acquired a national citizenship on becoming independent. Thus, people in Britain and the rest of the empire, remained British subjects and became citizens of the UK and Colonies. The scheme was such that, as colonies got their independence, people reserved their status as British subjects and obtained the national citizenship of the country gaining independence.
When Cyprus became independent in 1960, persons of Cypriot origin became citizens of the Republic of Cyprus. The scheme of the Cyprus independence legislation concerning citizenship was to make it part of treaty law as well as part of Cyprus’ constitution, which means it cannot be suspended or amended unilaterally under the doctrine of necessity. Annex D forms an integral part of the 1960 treaty concerning the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus. Essentially, it provides for the automatic acquisition of citizenship by all persons born in Cyprus before independence or descended in the male line from Cypriots ordinarily resident in Cyprus at any time during 5 years before independence on 16 August 1960.
By Article 198 of the Cyprus Constitution, pending a law incorporating Annex D, the rights to citizenship contained in Annex D were given constitutional force. As for those born after 1960, a person became a citizen if his father – and after 1999 his mother – was a citizen of the Republic at the time of his birth. This also applies to children of persons of Cypriot origin.
Now with Brexit, British citizens are seeking ways of retaining freedom of movement within the EU after Britain leaves the EU. Many British citizens of Cypriot origin shall discover that acquiring Cyprus citizenship is their way of retaining their rights as EU citizens to move freely within the EU.