Mowlam: Let's debate future of monarchy

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Indy Politics

Mo Mowlam, the Cabinet Office Minister, has called on the public and the media to start a debate on whether Britain should become a republic.

Mo Mowlam, the Cabinet Office Minister, has called on the public and the media to start a debate on whether Britain should become a republic.

Although Ms Mowlam refused to be drawn on the future of the Royal Family, she hinted at her republican views in an interview in this weekend's New Statesman magazine.

Asked whether a debate on the monarchy's future should now take place, she replied: "Well, I hope the media do have it. But it shouldn't be up to a member of the Cabinet to lead it. It should be something the press and public do. Yes."

She declined to state how the discussion should proceed. "That is not for me to dictate," she said. "That is a debate for the people of this country to have."

Ms Mowlam said she had not intended to upset the Royal Family in June when she called for them to move out of Buckingham Palace and admitted she was "no great fan of the monarchy". She said: "People told me I had caused hurt in the Royal Family, and I don't want to hurt them as individuals. I had no intention of that."

Her comments, in a previous interview with Saga magazine, were disowned by Downing Street and provoked a rare public rebuke by the Royals for a minister. They said that Buckingham Palace was a working building where 550 people worked and receptions were held most days."

Although Downing Street describes Mr Blair as "an ardent supporter of the monarchy," some observers describe him as a "closet Republican". Similar views are said to be held by the Chancellor Gordon Brown, who negotiated a 10-year freeze in the Civil List payments to the Royals, and the Home Secretary Jack Straw, who shared Ms Mowlam's desire to modernise the monarchy when Labour was in opposition.

Ms Mowlam dismissed reports that she planned to stand down from the Cabinet after the general election to work towards integrating the education system in Northern Ireland so that Catholics and Protestants attend the same schools.

The former Northern Ireland Secretary said she would also like to "do something with people with disabilities" when she eventually left politics.

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