Irish Premier: Boris Johnson is eccentric but not a Little Englander

19 December 2019, 07:11

Leo Varadkar made the comments on Irish TV
Leo Varadkar made the comments on Irish TV. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Ireland's leader has described Boris Johnson as a bit eccentric but insisted he was not a "little Englander".

Leo Varadkar has said he felt it was "probably a good thing" that his UK counterpart was not a standard politician.

Previously, Mr Varadkar described Boris Johnson’s landslide UK election victory as a “positive thing” for Ireland.

“First of all, I want to congratulate Mr Johnson. It's an enormous victory for him on a personal level, and also very clear result for his party,” he said.

“I think it's a positive thing that we have the decisive outcome in Britain in their elections,” the Taoiseach added.

In an interview with an Irish TV station, 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.

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."

Boris Johnson ran in the UK's recent general election campaign with the pledge his government would "get Brexit done," insisting his party was the only one which could secure the UK's exit from the EU.