Belfast Telegraph

Boris Johnson is eccentric but not a Little Englander – Varadkar

The Irish premier said he was confident the Prime Minister was internationally orientated and wanted to see the UK playing a role on the world stage

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Government Buildings during his visit to Dublin.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Government Buildings during his visit to Dublin.

By David Young, PA

Leo Varadkar has described Boris Johnson as a bit eccentric but insisted he was not a “little Englander”.

The Irish premier said he felt it was “probably a good thing” that his UK counterpart was not a standard politician.

In an interview with the Virgin Media One TV station in Ireland, Mr Varadkar was asked about his relationship with Mr Johnson.

While relations between the UK and Irish governments have been strained through the Brexit process, a meeting between the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister at a Cheshire hotel in October was seen as a key to producing the revised withdrawal deal.

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Leo Varadkar’s meeting with Boris Johnson at Thornton Manor Hotel in Cheshire helped unlock the Brexit deadlock (Department of the Taoiseach/PA)

Asked about Mr Johnson and his relationship with the Conservative leader, Mr Varadkar said:

“He is the guy that you see, he’s bright, he’s witty, very personable, but he is a bit eccentric as well. He’s not the standard politician but that’s probably a good thing on balance.”

The Taoiseach was asked whether he believed Mr Johnson was actually a Europhile at heart, and not a Eurosceptic.

Mr Varadkar described that as the “big debate”, adding:

“The story goes anyway that it was a hard decision for him whether he was going to come out for or against Brexit. I definitely think he is internationally orientated though. I don’t think he’s a little Englander. I do think he wants to see Britain as having a role to play in Europe and the world.

“But that’s not under our control. My job as Taoiseach is to make sure we navigate Ireland through this new situation and that we stay at the heart of Europe but also that we have a good relationship with our nearest neighbour, because that’s crucial for economic reasons but also because of Northern Ireland.”

PA

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