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Sunday, May 23, 1999 Published at 04:21 GMT 05:21 UK


Royal rumpus over poet

Andrew Motion was an early favourite for the Poet Laureate post

The new Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has raised eyebrows among royalists by declaring he has republican leanings.

He is also said to have attacked the government for being too right-wing, in an interview in the literacy magazine The Devil.

When asked if he was a republican, he is reported to have said: "It depends how it is done. I'm not a completely cut-and-dried republican, but I think there are bad examples of monarchy and good examples."

The remarks, said to be made to The Devil in an interview conducted at Mr Motion's north London home in January, have been published by The Sunday Telegraph.

[ image: The previous Poet Laureate Ted Hughes died last year]
The previous Poet Laureate Ted Hughes died last year
Mr Motion, 47, is also quoted as criticising the government by saying he would like it to move to the Left, and is said to have advocated higher taxes for those who can afford it.

He is reported to have said: "I would like it to move to the Left. I think it should stop mucking around in Europe and get in there.

"I think it's not good enough to just put a few million quid into schools and into the health service and all those basic things. It should be millions and millions."

Mr Motion's appointment as Poet Laureate, following the death of Ted Hughes, was announced earlier in the week and has been approved by the Queen.

The Sunday Telegraph says Mr Motion, 47, did not give a specific view on the British monarchy.

'He will become a fervent royalist'

But his remarks have been criticised by royal commentators who have pointed out that as Poet Laureate, Mr Motion is a paid member of the royal household.

His appointment is for 10 years, on an honorarium of £5,000 a year.

Lord St John Fawsley, a former Conservative minister and a constitutional expert, told The Sunday Telegraph: "We have quite enough criticism of the royal family as it is.

"Perhaps as Mr Motion gets to know Her Majesty a bit better he will change his views and by the end of his 10-year term he will, I am sure, be a fervent royalist."

Mr Motion, who is professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia, said earlier of his appointment: "I want to honour the traditional responsibilities, to write poems about royal occasions and so on.

"But I am also very keen to diversify the job, or at least make those poems part of the wider national issues that I also want to write about. I want to make it more widely political."

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