Who is Irish PM Leo Varadkar, when did he become Taoiseach and what are his views on Brexit?

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IRELAND’S trailblazing Taoiseach continues to oppose the British government’s plans for Brexit.

But do we know about Ireland’s youngest ever Prime Minister? Here’s the latest.

Leo Varadkar casts his vote in the abortion referendum
PA:Press Association

Who is Irish PM Leo Varadkar?

Leo Varadkar, 40, became Ireland’s Prime Minister on June 14, 2017.

He was appointed on a 57-50 vote with 47 abstentions.

The qualified doctor is the firstly openly gay Taoiseach and the youngest, and was a prominent advocate of the same-sex marriage referendum in 2015.

During an interview on RTÉ Radio on his 36th birthday, Varadkar spoke publicly for the first time about being gay: “It’s not something that defines me.”

Referring to his background, he added: “I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am, it doesn’t define me, it is part of my character I suppose.”

One of Varadkar’s first acts as Taoiseach was to announce a referendum on abortion for 2018.

But his approach to Brexit and the backstop have defined his time in office as Britain and the EU continue to try and thrash out a deal.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar before the start of the Belfast Pride parade
PA:Press Association

What are his views on Brexit?

Vardkar has invited new PM Boris Johnson to Dublin to discuss Brexit – but has already said there can be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement.

A UK government spokesperson said that during the call both leaders had reiterated their commitment to work together in the spirit of the “warm and deep relationship” the two countries share.

Speaking to the I newspaper, Leo Varadkar said: “We ended up with the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop because of all the red lines that were drawn up by the British Government.

“Now if we’re going back to square one and those red lines are being changed, then we’ve something to talk about.”

The Taoiseach’s blast comes after reports claiming Ireland is due to face an economic crash, job losses, civil unrest and possible power cuts if Britain leaves without a deal.

Dublin has warned that Irish people face a “disruption to daily life” and a “permanent reduction in the size of the economy” if no agreement is in place.

What has he said about the Irish backstop?

The Irish PM insists he will not budge on the Irish backstop.

The two leaders will discuss the Brexit row and the Irish border issue during the crunch meeting scheduled in Dublin in early September.

Mr Johnson has demanded the controversial Irish backstop is torn up before doing any new Brexit deal.

A spokesman for the Irish PM – known as the Taoiseach – said: “As has repeatedly been made clear, the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop are not up for negotiation.

“Any discussions on changes to the Political Declaration would occur between the UK and the EU.”

What did Varadkar say about Ireland’s abortion referendum?

Mr Varadkar said he would campaign for the Yes vote, saying he had changed his mind after reviewing a case as Minister for Health.

The Taoiseach said that the vote marked a culmination of a “quiet revolution” that has taken place over the last few decades.

Mr Varadkar said: “What we see is the culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland over the past couple of decades.
“The public have spoken. The result appears to be resounding in favour of repealing the eighth amendment.

“It’s possible even that we could carry every constituency in the country, men and women, almost every age group and every social class.”

He added: “We will have a modern Constitution for a modern country.”

In the vote 66 per cent voted for the bill and 33 per cent against.

The act came in on September 18, 2018.

Leo Varadkar’s partner Matthew Barrett at Aras an Uachtarain in Dublin
PA:Press Association


Who’s his partner Matthew Barrett?

Dr Matthew Barrett is a cardiologist based in Dublin, who previously worked in Chicago.

The pair are in a serious long-term relationship.

Barrett accompanied Varadkar on an official visit to the United States earlier this year.

They tend to keep their relationship out of the spotlight, but are believed to have been together for around four years.

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