Becker likely meets most criteria for becoming a British citizen. He’s owned a London flat and worked in the UK for many years, but that’s not the only hurdle this former champion must jump. Becker would have to pass the UK’s citizenship test.
Tony Blair’s Labour government introduced the test in 2005. The Tory-led coalition made the test a standard requirement for citizenship applications from 2013. The test costs £50 and applicants must answer 18 of 24 questions correctly to pass.
Becker may find this a difficult test match to win. Professor Thom Brooks, at Durham University, is the leading expert on the British citizenship test and says it’s unfit for purpose and “like a bad pub quiz.” Brooks became a UK citizen in 2011 after moving from the USA.
“The test urgently requires revision,” says Professor Brooks. “Practical everyday necessities like how to contact an ambulance, report a crime or register with a GP are missing. But new citizens are required to know the year Emperor Claudius invaded Britain and which street Sake Dean Mahomet launched the UK’s first curry house—many of the test’s facts I doubt most British citizens know or even should know to be British.”
Over 1 million tests have been sat over the last 10 years. Professor Brooks says it’s time for a fundamental rethink on the test’s purpose: “There’s never been a review of whether the test is fit for purpose more than a decade since it was launched. The government should announce a major review preferably led by a naturalised UK citizen who understands the system inside and out to ensure the test meets public expectations and is beneficial. This is important for all present and future citizens alike, including Becker.”
New citizens receive a small gift at regularly convened citizenship ceremonies across the country, such as a small medal or cufflinks. It’s unclear whether Becker would display them alongside his many tennis trophies won over his remarkable career.
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