Leo Varadkar speaks during a joint press conference at the European Parliament. Jean-Francois Badias via PA Images
Brexit spokesperson

DUP's Sammy Wilson regrets calling Leo Varadkar 'a nutcase'

Sammy Wilson has previously called the Taoiseach and his Tánaiste Simon Coveney “cynical, aggressive, green, and partisan”.

THE DUP REPRESENTATIVE Sammy Wilson has said that he regrets calling Taoiseach Leo Varadkar “a nutcase”.

He made the original comments to news site Politico after the Taoiseach’s pro-EU speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday.

Wilson, who’s the DUP’s Brexit spokesperson, had said that Varadkar’s “naivety, inexperience, [and] arrogance” had made things more difficult for the UK and the Irish government needed to “cut [the UK] some slack”.

He told Politico:

“It was always our view at the very start of this process that the biggest ally we would have when it came to negotiating with the European Union was Dublin, and indeed that always was the impression we got when Enda Kenny was in power.

But since this nutcase Varadkar has taken over that things have all changed.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph afterwards, Wilson has rescinded his use of the word “nutcase” and says he regrets his choice of words.

Brexit Liam McBurney via PA Images Liam McBurney via PA Images

“Upon reflection, I should have said Leo Varadkar’s EU policies defy logic rather than the language I used. I regret my choice of language,” he told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.

He also said “Leo Varadkar’s approach may make him popular in Brussels but it will eventually destroy Ireland”.

It’s not the first time Wilson, who’s an MP for East Antrim, has made a scathing attack on an Irish government figure.

In early December, following reports that an agreement had been reached on a post-Brexit Irish border, Wilson launched an attack on the Taoiseach, and on Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney.

“In Northern Ireland their handling of this has been seen as cynical, aggressive, green, partisan and has damaged relationships which were built up over a long period of time,” he said.

And as a minister in the Northern Ireland Executive I had very good relationships with the finance ministers in the republic, but I can tell you none of them would have dealt with Northern Ireland in the way that those two, Coveney and Varadkar, have dealt with Northern Ireland.

The catalyst

In his speech, Varadkar outlined his vision for the future of the European Union, against the backdrop of Brexit, political uncertainty and security concerns.

“The Irish people are profoundly grateful for the unswerving support of this parliament,” Varadkar told the leaders assembled.

“As the negotiations move forward, we will continue to rely on your support and solidarity as we work to ensure that what has been promised in theory is delivered in practice. There can be no backsliding.”

After his speech, vocal Brexiteer Nigel Farage called Varadkar a “European unionist”.

Farage said that Varadkar was being used as a political pawn and that Ireland was, “for once”, useful to the big countries in making Brexit as convoluted and as difficult as possible. Farage added that “small countries normally count for nothing”.

Read: DUP’s Sammy Wilson in scathing attack on ‘cynical, aggressive and green’ Varadkar and Coveney

Read: Farage brands Varadkar a ‘European unionist’ as he attacks Irish relationship with EU

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