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Ex UU professor sets up own 'state' in terraced house as protest over Brexit

By Aaron Tinney

A furious former professor who taught in Northern Ireland has declared his home a "republic" in protest against Brexit.

Retired university lecturer Dr William Riches has made his wife Judith president, and granted his children and grandchildren citizenship.

The 77-year-old, who lectured around the world, including at Ulster University, says when the UK does eventually exit the European Union, visitors will require a visa costing at least £50 to step over the threshold of his three-storey home that overlooks the Bristol Channel.

He said: "I am a staunch Remainer and cannot see a future for this country now.

"All our literature, all our art, all our culture, all our history is intertwined with Europe, so the idea that we are not part of Europe, that we are some small, but significant little island, just annoyed me so much I had to do something.

"I was so mad after the vote to leave that I decided to put signs up and declare my home an independent republic.

"I feel very strongly that the wishes of the 48% of us who voted Remain are being totally ignored, so this is the only way I have left to protest.

"If I could declare us a republic and join Europe, I probably would.

"Maybe I'll look into it."

A notice in the front window of Europhile Dr Riches' terraced home - Middlewatch - in the village of Newnham, Gloucestershire, reads: 'The Independent Republic of Middlewatch. This Republic is a proud member of the European Union. All non-EU residents wishing to visit the Republic must have a valid EU passports.'

His notice has echoes of the 1949 Ealing comedy Passport To Pimlico, which starred Stanley Holloway and Margaret Rutherford as residents of a small part of London claiming links to the House of Burgundy so it can avoid the strict rationing and other post-war restrictions in force in the rest of the UK.

Dr Riches could not find a dark blue EU flag anywhere locally to adorn his home, but his Germany-based son sent one from the Continent, where they are commonplace, so he could display it alongside his notice in the window.

The former academic and his wife have been issuing visas to friends and family after going to the effort of designing and printing them.

They also plan to make their own passports, although they have not yet decided what colour they will be.

It has been claimed that the hard Brexit promised by Prime Minister Theresa May could encourage a hard border that will undermine 20 years of normalisation since the end of the Troubles.

Dr Riches said the family are "going to adopt the euro and sign the Maastricht Treaty" after establishing a consul in the neighbouring village Lydyney.

He joked: "The next stage will be to negotiate for membership and to appoint an ambassador in Brussels."

Dr Riches plans to hold elections annually and he expects to replace his wife as president after next year's vote.

The well-travelled former lecturer, who was born in Gloucestershire and has worked in universities in Canada and America, added that he felt the vote to leave the European Union was an assault on the United Kingdom's youth.

Dr Riches and his wife had put a notice in the window of their Middlewatch home before the June 23 referendum on the EU imploring older people to consider the wishes of the majority of the 18-35-year-olds who wanted to remain in Europe.

He added: "I don't understand why the older generation voted against their children.

"And I'd bet that the majority of people in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales would not be able to pass the citizenship exam that people have to take now."

Wife Judith said: "I think it's about time older people got their heads out of the clouds and recognised that the world doesn't go backwards, that things will never go back to the way they were when they were young."

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