IRELAND’S trailblazing Taoiseach has today said the PM has a ‘Herculean’ task on his hands with regards to securing a Brexit deal.
But what do we know about Ireland’s youngest ever Prime Minister? Here’s the latest on Leo Varadkar.
Who is Irish PM Leo Varadkar?
Leo Varadkar, 40, became Ireland’s Prime Minister on June 14, 2017.
He was appointed on a 57-50 vote with 47 abstentions.
The qualified doctor is the firstly openly gay Taoiseach and the youngest, and was a prominent advocate of the same-sex marriage referendum in 2015.
During an interview on RTÉ Radio on his 36th birthday, Varadkar spoke publicly for the first time about being gay: “It’s not something that defines me.”
Referring to his background, he added: “I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am, it doesn’t define me, it is part of my character I suppose.”
One of Varadkar’s first acts as Taoiseach was to announce a referendum on abortion for 2018.
But his approach to Brexit and the backstop have defined his time in office as Britain and the EU continue to try and thrash out a deal.
What are his views on Brexit?
Vardkar has invited new PM Boris Johnson to Dublin to discuss Brexit – but has already said there can be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement.
A UK government spokesperson said that during the call both leaders had reiterated their commitment to work together in the spirit of the “warm and deep relationship” the two countries share.
Speaking to the I newspaper, Leo Varadkar said: “We ended up with the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop because of all the red lines that were drawn up by the British Government.
“Now if we’re going back to square one and those red lines are being changed, then we’ve something to talk about.”
The Taoiseach’s blast comes after reports claiming Ireland is due to face an economic crash, job losses, civil unrest and possible power cuts if Britain leaves without a deal.
Dublin has warned that Irish people face a “disruption to daily life” and a “permanent reduction in the size of the economy” if no agreement is in place.
What has he said about the Irish backstop?
The Irish PM insists he will not budge on the Irish backstop.
The two leaders will discuss the Brexit row and the Irish border issue during the crunch meeting scheduled in Dublin in early September.
Mr Johnson has demanded the controversial Irish backstop is torn up before doing any new Brexit deal.
A spokesman for the Irish PM – known as the Taoiseach – said: “As has repeatedly been made clear, the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop are not up for negotiation.
“Any discussions on changes to the Political Declaration would occur between the UK and the EU.”
What did Varadkar say to Johnson about Brexit?
Leo Varadkar said the PM had a “Herculean” task on his hands with regards to leaving the EU with a deal but said he was “looking forward” to their Brexit talks today.
He said: “If there is a deal, and I think it’s possible, we’ll enter talks on a future relationship agreement between European Union and the UK.”
The Taoiseach described the task ahead as “very tough” but said Ireland wanted to be Britain’s “friend” and “ally”.
Mr Varadkar also appealed to the PM’s love of Winston Churchill and the classics, with an Irish anecdote about Britain’s great wartime leader after referring to Ireland as the UK’s “Athena”.
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Who’s his partner Matthew Barrett?
Dr Matthew Barrett is a cardiologist based in Dublin, who previously worked in Chicago.
The pair are in a serious long-term relationship.
Barrett accompanied Varadkar on an official visit to the United States earlier this year.
They tend to keep their relationship out of the spotlight, but are believed to have been together for around four years.
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