Wednesday 23 October 2019

Varadkar wades into UK leadership battle with stern warning

Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has issued an unprecedented warning to the next British Prime Minister, telling the contenders not to make “a terrible political miscalculation” by promising they can renegotiate the Brexit deal.

Breaking from the tradition of refusing to comment the Conservative Party leadership contest, Mr Varadkar told the Dáil he is “a little bit concerned about political developments in London”.

He claimed some in British politics have believed all along that Ireland would “somehow fall into line” or be abandoned by the EU.

A number of the leading contenders to takeover Downing Street, including Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, have told voters they will go back to Brussels for a new Withdrawal Agreement.

Mr Johnson, the current frontrunner, has said he will replace the Irish backstop with “alternative arrangements”.

But Mr Varadkar said: "Theresa May was not a bad negotiator. She had a good team and I believe they got the best deal they could have got, given the limited leverage that a country leaving the European Union has.

"It took two years to negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement. It is not perfect. It is a finely balanced compromise. Everyone had to give and take. Sadly the House of Commons failed to ratify that agreement."

And in a clear swipe at the hardline Brexiteer in the Conservative Party, he added: "I am a little bit concerned that some people in London seem to think that because the House of Commons failed to ratify that the agreement that automatically means they are going to get a better one.

"That is a terrible political miscalculation. I hope that is not the one that is being made across the water. They made some miscalculations along the way."

The Taoiseach said some in the UK seemed to believe that Ireland “would somehow fall into line” after Brexit.

“That we might leave to. We didn't and we are not,” he said.

"Some thought that when push came to shove that Ireland would be abandoned. That EU unity would break. And they were wrong about that.

"We really hope that they are not making a further miscalculation which is to think that the House of Commons, having failed to ratify the deal would somehow get a better deal. That really misunderstands how the European Union works,” Mr Varadkar said.

Online Editors

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