The real reason Varadkar is standing firm on Brexit – Irish leader faces leadership CRISIS


The strenuous fight put up by the Irish Taoiseach against Theresa May could find an explanation not only in the risks posed to Ireland by a hard Brexit. The Irish leader and head of the Fine Gael party has been leading a minority Government since 2017 thanks to an agreement with the largest opposition party in the country, Fianna Fail. The understanding between the two parts sees Fianna Fail backing the Government to allow Mr Varadkar to conduct Brexit talks without worrying about gaining a majority at every vote. 

The pact, signed in 2016 with former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, was due to end in December, when the British Parliament was believed to hold the meaningful vote on Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement.

But after the vote was delayed, the signatories agreed to make it last as long as the Brexit crisis continues.

However, Mr Varadkar is currently at the centre of a hospital spending row, which is making the opposition increasingly uncomfortable with the deal. 

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An Irish minister said: “Whenever Brexit is settled the detente will end.

“It has gone past its sell-by date, but we all have to get on with it for another period.”

The end of the planned truce between Government and opposition has also been hailed by several Fianna Fail’s MPs.

John Curran, a Dublin MP, argued a Brexit settlement would give his party back the freedom to back or reject the Government’s policies. 

He said: “It would allow us as a party to operate more freely and independently in the decision-making process, in terms of whether to support the Government or not.”

Fianna Fail members acknowledge it would be a “national sabotage” to plunge the country into a political crisis and lead voters to a snap election in the midst of the Brexit crisis, with only 31 days to go before the day set for the UK to legally leave the European Union and with no deal in place.

But they also know the constant support given to Fine Gael is eroding trust in the party’s supporters.

One Fianna Fail figure said: “We’ve been associated, by propping them up with their mistakes, and that’s driving people mad.

“They’re losing patience with us and they are saying it’s indefensible. 

“They are asking: how much more do have to take?”

Mr Varadkar’s party has been accused of keeping Fianna Fail in the dark over the costs of a children hospital in Dublin.

The cost of the structure more than doubled in two years, reaching an eye-watering £1.2bn (€1.4bn).

However, despite voicing their disapproval, Fianna Fail’s MPs still stuck to the 2016 pact and didn’t vote down the health minister over the hospital at last week’s vote.

Mr Varadkar opposes to Mrs May’s request of making clear in the Brexit deal that the backstop, which will avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland after Brexit, is just a temporary solution.   


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