Tory politician gets Irish passport because he’s ‘quite ashamed to be British’ after Brexit

Conservative MEP for London says he wanted reassurance he would remain an EU citizen following referendum result

Lydia Smith
Monday 04 September 2017 09:56
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Mr Tannock said that without remainers like him, his party 'would just become Tory-kip'
Mr Tannock said that without remainers like him, his party 'would just become Tory-kip'

A Conservative MEP has secured himself an Irish passport following the vote to leave the European Union, because he is a “passionate remainer who wanted reassurance he would stay an EU citizen”.

Hampshire-born Charles Tannock, whose grandmother was born in Dublin in 1895, said he deeply regretted the Brexit outcome.

A member of the European Parliament for London, he said had always been interested in his Irish heritage but became more passionate following the referendum.

“It has been awakened by Brexit because, to be honest, I am quite ashamed to be British in many ways,” he told the Irish Times.

Mr Tannock said he felt "more Irish than ever" and planned to go on a "pilgrimage" with his mother to Ireland, as she had also received an Irish passport.

The number of Britons applying for Irish passports increased by two-thirds this year, partly because of Brexit.

Conservative MEP for London Charles Tannock

Anyone with grandparents born in Ireland is eligible for citizenship by descent, but must first register their birth on the Foreign Births Register.

Mr Tannock said he had considered applying for an Irish passport in the past, but was put off by red tape and bureaucracy.

He began the process of getting the document following the referendum result in June 2016, but said he would continue to use his British passport at the moment.

“I wanted to feel fully European and be reassured I would remain an EU citizen,” he said. “It is more a statement of my EU and Irish heritage and loyalty.”

“My view is that as long as I am an MEP, I will only use the Irish passport when I have not got my British passport,” Mr Tannock added.

“As a British MEP, my duty is to carry on travelling as a British citizen but I am seriously considering after Brexit about whether I will renew my British passport if we head in the very hostile direction towards the rest of Europe.”

Mr Tannock, who was first elected to the European Parliament in 1999, said he had no intention of stepping down from his position and leaving the Conservatives, but added it was difficult to be a remainer in his party.

“If someone like me were to leave the Tory party, it would just become Tory-kip – a Conservative UKIP and I think you need some moderates to try and redress the imbalances which have crept into the Conservative party,” he told the newspaper.

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