Brexit-hating Hilary Mantel wants to become Irish

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Mantel is the first British writer to win the Booker Prize twice (AFP/Isabel Infantes)
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"Wolf Hall" author Hilary Mantel says she plans to take up Irish citizenship, "to become a European again" after Brexit.

Mantel, the first British writer to win the Booker Prize twice, also attacked Prime Minister Boris Johnson as being unfit for office, in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica published on Saturday.

"I hope to loop back into my family story and become an Irish citizen," said the celebrated author, who has Irish Catholic roots through her grandparents.

"Our projected move has been held back by Covid, but much as I love where I live now, in the West Country (in England), by the sea, I feel the need to be packing my bags, and to become a European again."

Arguing Johnson "should not be in public life", Mantel said she felt "ashamed, of course, to be living in the nation that elected this government", and would prefer to live in a republic.

She also attacked the Brexiteer politicians who took Britain out of the European Union as "callow opportunists, insincere and devious, and often ridiculous".

Mantel, 69, grew up in northern England, and told La Repubblica that she had always felt more of a "provincial" and "European" writer, "rather than an English writer".

"My parents were both born in England, but the generation that shaped me was the one before that, and I was conscious of belonging to an Irish family," she observed.

"We were northern, working-class and Catholic, and to me, Englishness was Protestant and southern, and owned by people with more money."

Mantel's "Wolf Hall" trilogy, chronicling the doomed life of Tudor minister Thomas Cromwell, was a publishing sensation. The concluding novel, "The Mirror & The Light", came out in March 2020.

She was one of many cultural figures who spoke out against Brexit before Britain voted in 2016 to quit the European Union, a decision that finally took full effect at the start of this year.

EU member Ireland allows individuals with Irish parents or grandparents to claim citizenship, and there has been a boom in applications from Britain since 2016.

Driven by his animosity to Brexit, spy author John le Carre became an Irish citizen shortly before he died last December, according to his son.

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