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Varadkar warns of 'terrible political miscalculation' in London over Brexit deal

Speaking today, Varadkar said that he is a “little concerned about political developments in London at present”.

Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said it is a “terrible political miscalculation” that some people in London think that because the House of Commons failed to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement that it automatically means they will get a better deal. 

Speaking today, Varadkar said that he is a “little concerned about political developments in London at present”. 

“Theresa May was not a bad negotiator. She had a good team. I believe they got the best deal they could have got, given the limited leverage that a country leaving the EU has,” Varadkar said. 

“It took two years to negotiate the withdrawal agreement.  It is not perfect.  It is a finely balanced compromise.  Everyone had to give and take.  Sadly, the House of Commons failed to ratify that agreement.”

I am a little concerned that some people in London seem to think the failure of the House of Commons to ratify the agreement automatically means they will get a better agreement. That is a terrible political miscalculation. I hope it is not the one that is being made across the water.

Varadkar made his comments after a number of candidates fighting to become Britain’s next Prime Minister have said they would be prepared to leave the EU with no deal on 31 October. 

May took office after the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU and has spent the past three years working on a departure plan, delaying Brexit twice to try to get the deal through.

However, she finally acknowledged defeat in a tearful resignation speech last month, making way for the race for a new leader. 

The leadership contest kicked off yesterday as 10 Conservative MPs received enough support to take part in the party’s leadership contest.

In his comments today, Varadkar criticised the UK’s thoughts on Ireland following its decision to leave the EU. 

“After the UK decided to leave the EU, they initially thought that Ireland would somehow fall into line and leave too. We did not leave and we are not leaving,” Varadkar said.

Some of them thought that when push came to shove, Ireland would be abandoned and EU unity would break. They were wrong about that.

Varadkar said he hopes they are not now “making a further political miscalculation, which is to think that the House of Commons, having failed to ratify the deal, will somehow get a better deal”. 

“That is to really misunderstand how the European Union works.” 

Tory race

Separately, Rory Stewart today questioned fellow Conservative leadership candidate Boris Johnson’s ability to be prime minister. 

“Is this the person that you want writing the instructions to the nuclear submarines?” Stewart said as he launched his campaign in a circus tent in London.

“Is this the man you want embodying your nation on the world stage and guiding you through the most difficult choice that Britain has faced for 50 years. I trust the Conservative members to arrive at the correct answer,” he said. 

Sky News reported that Stewart accused his rivals of offering “fairy stories” on Brexit. 

At his own campaign launch, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also lambasted Johnson, presenting himself as a “serious leader” for “serious times”.

Hunt opposed Brexit in the 2016 EU referendum but said that the Conservatives – under pressure from populist eurosceptic Nigel Farage’s new party – must deliver on the result or face “annihilation” in the next election.

Asked about “no deal”, Hunt said: “I would be prepared to without a deal if there was a straight choice between no deal and no Brexit, but I’d do so with a heavy heart.”

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Tory leadership race Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt launching his campaign in central London Source: Victoria Jones via PA Images

He claimed at the weekend that he had received encouraging signals for renegotiating the Brexit deal from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In response, a German government spokeswoman referenced a previous remark by Merkel that the deal cannot be reopened, although a declaration on future ties could be.

Former Brexit minister Dominic Raab meanwhile warned that Britain’s EU exit would not happen with “bluff and bluster”.

“I’m the conviction Brexiteer with the plan, the discipline and the focus to lead us out by the end of October,” he said, while also attacking Johnson’s plans for a tax cut for the rich.

Sky News reported today that Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who is also contesting the race, said “if we got to the end of October and the choice was between no deal and no Brexit, I would pick no deal”. 

Conservative MPs will hold a series of secret ballots to whittle down the field to a final pair, who will be put to around 160,000 party members.

The first round of voting takes place on Thursday and candidates must receive the support of 17 MPs or be eliminated.

In the second vote scheduled for 18 June, candidates must receive the support of 33 MPs to proceed.

With reporting by © – AFP 2019

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