Belfast Telegraph

Brexit: Varadkar 'being smeared by London' as tensions rise

By Niall O'Connor

Leo Varadkar is being targeted by British officials and politicians as the Brexit war turns dirty, it has been reported.

High ranking UK officials are negatively briefing against the Taoiseach in private conversations with their EU counterparts, senior Dublin figures revealed.

As tensions between Dublin and London intensify, sources involved in devising Ireland's Brexit strategy say they have detected a 'smear campaign' against Mr Varadkar (above).

Sources directly involved in the negotiations now say they have spoken to EU figures who have been negatively briefed against the Taoiseach.

"It's evident that there is a smear campaign against Leo and it's been driven by (Prime Minister) Theresa May's government," said one Irish source.

Earlier, Mr Varadkar said his appointment of Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney as Tanaiste will add weight to his arguments in the Brexit negotiations.

Mr Coveney was appointed the Republic's new deputy premier following the resignation of Frances Fitzgerald this week over her handling of a police whistleblower scandal.

Mr Varadkar announced the appointment of the new Tanaiste in the Dail. He said in appointing Mr Coveney, he was "very conscious of the important role he plays as Minister of Foreign Affairs, as minister responsible for Brexit".

He added: "I believe his appointment as Tanaiste and deputy prime minister will enhance his position in representing the government overseas in the negotiations currently underway."

Mr Coveney told the Dáil that the EU "will not abandon Ireland", adding that "there is a very strong understanding across the 27 EU states in relation to what is required".

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