Saturday 19 October 2019

New PM faces 'very serious reality check' on negotiations - Varadkar

Gender balance: Phil Hogan has been nominated again for EU job. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Gender balance: Phil Hogan has been nominated again for EU job. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The next British prime minister is going to face a "very serious reality check" on Brexit, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Both contenders in the Conservative leadership race - Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt - have made remarks suggesting that the Brexit negotiations could be reopened, something that the EU has ruled out.

Mr Varadkar said: "Politicians when they're in campaign mode - and both of those men are in campaign mode - tend to campaign in poetry ... When you get into office you govern in prose.

"And I imagine whoever is the new prime minister is going to face a very serious reality check when they sit down with their officials ... to be fully briefed on the realities of Brexit, if they don't know them already."

He told Newstalk Radio he would give the new British prime minister a "fair hearing" and that other European leaders would do the same.

Separately, Mr Varadkar defended his record on gender balance after the Government failed to nominate a female candidate to be Ireland's next EU Commissioner.

Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said she would ask each member state to nominate two candidates, one male and one female.

The Government has nominated Phil Hogan for a second term in Brussels.

Despite this, Mr Varadkar insisted he's a "strong believer in gender balance, both in politics and in business".

He added: "I lead a party that had more female TDs, more female MEPs and more female councillors than any other party so we're practising what we preach."

In relation to "top European positions", he said: "We have an Irish woman who's first vice-president if the European Parliament [Mairead McGuinness] and we have an Irish woman who's the EU Ombudsman [Emily O'Reilly] ... we're putting forward Phil Hogan for the European Commission so there's good balance there I think."

Irish Independent

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