LONDON – A Conservative politician has acquired an Irish passport in a protest over Brexit, saying “I am quite ashamed to be British in many ways.”
Charles Tannock, an MEP for London, told the Irish Times on Monday that he was a “pretty angry pro-European Tory” and a “passionate remainer” who had applied and received his Irish passport after the EU referendum last year.
He is one of the tens of thousands of UK citizens who have applied for Irish passports in the wake of the Brexit vote in order to secure EU citizenship once the UK leaves the EU.
Tannock qualifies for an Irish passport because his maternal grandmother was born in Dublin, and said his interest in his Irish background “has been awakened by Brexit because, to be honest, I am quite ashamed to be British in many ways.”
The MEP criticised the Conservative party for “arrogance and hubris . . . the petty nationalism, the triumphalism” that he saw after the victory for Leave in the EU referendum.
Anyone who has an Irish grandparent can get an Irish passport, along with those whose parents had Irish citizenship at the time of their birth.
Tannock said he was not going to resign from the Tories. “It is a hard place to be as a remainer Tory, but I am not leaving the party yet.”
He told the Irish Times: “I deeply regret the Brexit outcome. It was done on a slim majority on a broad franchise. And there were a pack of lies and false promises made. I don’t feel morally bound by the outcome but I accept that legally that was the result.
“The government feels bound by it, there is no going back on Brexit but where I can be absolutely clear, there is nothing in the referendum which says we have to have the hardest Brexit. I have been campaigning ever since day one for the softest Brexit to stay as close as possible.”