Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

Leo Varadkar hopes for a 'clear majority' from UK election – but admits he’s bracing himself for 'a long night'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

By John Downing

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he hopes the UK voters do not return another “hung parliament” in today’s election.

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Mr Varadkar said he hopes the election returns “a large majority” – either for outgoing British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, or for the combined parties who back remaining in the EU.

Speaking on his way into a crucial EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, Mr Varadkar signalled that the worst outcome for Ireland would be another parliament without an overall majority which would mean more inaction and uncertainty on Brexit.

“The best thing for Ireland, for the United Kingdom and the European Union, would be an end to the uncertainty,” Mr Varadkar said.

“So, whether that’s Prime Minister Johnson winning with a large majority, or the ‘remain parties’ together winning a majority, we’ll work with whatever the outcome is.

"But what has been very hard to work with has been a parliament which was a ‘hung parliament,’ that wasn’t able to come to a majority on anything. I just hope we’re not in that position again,”  the Taoiseach added.

Mr Varadkar made it clear that he and the 27 other colleagues will be watching the UK results closely tonight. The so-called “exit polls” may give a clear result prediction at 11pm Brussels time (10pm in Ireland) – but they may have to wait for detailed count results through the night.

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He said many leaders will be “bleary-eyed” when the summit session is due to resume early tomorrow.

The Taoiseach again signalled that very tough negotiations will follow next year on a new post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal.  He said he will be seeking a strong role in those talks.

The 27 EU leaders will be discussing moves to have a carbon-free European Union by 2050.  Mr Varadkar said he would be seeking compensation for the Irish midlands to fund a “just transition” away from peat  harvesting.

Mr Varadkar also said he will be seeking a continuation of EU peace funds for Northern Ireland with a €1bn over the seven years 2021-2027.

The EU leaders will try to progress negotiations on this seven-year budget plan – this includes plugging a €12bn per year gap left by the UK leaving the European Union and ceasing to contribute.

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