Leo Varadkar has refuted claims that Boris Johnson is a ‘little Englander’ for his Brexit views – claiming that he is actually a Europhile.
In an interview with the Virgin Media One TV station in Ireland, Varadkar was asked about his relationship with 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 Johnson and his relationship with the Conservative leader, Varadkar said he thought it was ‘probably a good thing’ that his UK counterpart was not a standard politician.
“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 Johnson was actually a Europhile at heart, and not a Eurosceptic.
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.”