An anti-Brexit Tory politician has declared he is “ashamed to be British” after successfully applying for an Irish passport.
Charles Tannock, Conservative MEP for London, said that he was a “pretty angry pro-European Tory” and a “passionate remainer”.
With a Dublin-born grandmother, Tannock applied for the passport in the wake of the EU referendum result and has now revealed to the Irish Times that he has been granted one.
Under Irish law anyone who has a grandparent born in Ireland can gain citizenship. Anyone who has a parent with Irish citizenship at the time of their birth can also claim a passport.
Attacking the “arrogance and hubris . . . the petty nationalism, the triumphalism” of members of his own party after the vote, Tannock said his interest in his Irish past has always been in the back of his mind, but has now been reignited.
“It has been awakened by Brexit because, to be honest, I am quite ashamed to be British in many ways,” he said.
Tannock did not rule out leaving his party, saying he would not quit “yet” but admitted it is “hard being a Remainer Tory”.
Outgoing Irish ambassador to London, Dan Mulhall, said his government was expecting to issue twice the number of Irish passports in the UK this year compared to 2015, the last pre-Brexit year.
Before the referendum to leave the UK, around 50,000 Irish passports were issued in Britain each year.
Tannock is an avid pro-European and regularly Tweets off-message tweets about the consequences of Brexit.
Tannock 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.
“If my model were adopted – to stay in the single market and the customs union – there would be no Border problem in Ireland. Instead they have decided that Brexit means Brexit, there has to be a total divorce and Europe has to become something quite alien.
“They have this ludicrous idea, led by someone like Liam Fox that somehow the EU has stopped Britain trading with the world. I have always said that if that was so, Germany would have left the club decades ago.”