Tuesday 16 July 2019

Varadkar thanks incoming Commission President for 'strong message of support on Brexit'

Leo Varadkar. Photo: AP
Leo Varadkar. Photo: AP
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has thanked incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for her "strong message of support on Brexit".

He also told her he will urge Irish MEPs to support her appointment to the role in a vote due in the European Parliament next week.

The pair had their first phone conversation since Ms Von der Leyen was nominated to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker in the job later this year.

During the week Ms Von der Leyen told a European Parliament ratification hearing that the backstop in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement aimed at avoiding a hard border in Ireland was "precious, important and has to be defended".

She has also said she would not reopen Brexit negotiations with the UK.

Ms Von der Leyen needs a majority of MEPs to back her in a vote next week to become Commission President in November.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said: "The Taoiseach spoke by phone this afternoon with Ursula von der Leyen and congratulated her on her nomination for President of the European Commission.

"He assured her of the support of the MEPs from his party and said he would encourage other MEPs to support her candidature in the vote in the European Parliament next Tuesday.

"He also thanked her for her strong message of support on Brexit."

The pair agreed to speak again after Tuesday's vote.

Ms Von der Leyen, who most recently served as German Defence minister, is a member of Chancelor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party (CDU).

The CDU and Mr Varadkar's Fine Gael are sister parties under the umbrella of the European's People's Party in the European Parliament.

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