Varadkar had one job to do: Blame Boris

Varadkar had one job to do: Blame Boris

It is always darkest before the light, we are told.

The rain had been beating down steadily on Government Buildings ahead of the arrival of Boris Johnson who is enduring very dark times himself these days.

His first week in parliament as Prime Minister was one for forget.

Three Commons defeats, he lost his working majority, his own brother resigned as minister and MP and then yesterday Amber Rudd resigned from his Cabinet.

His arrival in Dublin comes at a time when Anglo-Irish relations are very much under strain.

It has taken 46 days for Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar to meet face to face compared to the 13 days it took Theresa May to host Enda Kenny in Downing Street.

Bumbling his way out his top of the range State car, Johnson looked like he rolled out of bed.

The shirt hanging loose over his trousers, his famous blonde mop of hair thrown about as always.

Next to him, Varadkar cut the look of the clean-cut class prefect, (not a role he is used to, he normally is the bold boy).

The form on these occasions is that questions from the media come at the end of the meeting but today it was different.

The strictly curtailed questions and answers session took place on arrival.

For his part, Varadkar had one job to do, knowing his comments were being broadcast live in the UK on the likes of the BBC and Sky News, - blame Boris.

He had to make clear that this was not an Irish problem that requires Dublin to bend the knee. This is and was a catastrophe ignited in Britain and it is for Britain to fix.

He made his point with force: “We both agree we have much to discuss, we accept the democratic and sovereign decisions to leave the EU,” Mr Varadkar said.

However, in my view, the story of Brexit won’t end if the UK leaves the EU on October 31 or January 31. There is no such thing as a clean break.

That was a direct shot at the Brexiteers who have engaged in the fantasy argument that Brexit will deliver economic and social nirvana for the down trodden Brit.

But he went further.

The Taoiseach made it clear that for all the bluff and bluster from Johnson about new talks and proposals aplenty from Downing Street as to how the backstop quagmire can be overcome, he has received not one.

Yes, we are open to alternatives. But they must be realistic ones, legally binding and workable.

"We have received no such proposals to date,” he said.

Ouch, that one stung and one could see Johnson shuffling in his shoes.

Varadkar had one job to do: Blame Boris

Johnson in his words to the media, sought to play down expectations that this one meeting would solve everything.

But he did say he wanted a deal.

“So if I have one message that I want to land with you today Leo, it is that I want to find a deal. I want to get a deal. Like you, I've looked carefully at no deal. I have assessed its consequences, both for our country and yours. And, yes, of course, we could do it, the UK could certainly get through it.

"But be in no doubt that it would be a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible and so, for the sake of business, and farmers, and for millions of ordinary people who are now counting on us to use our imagination and creativity to get this done, I would overwhelmingly prefer to find an agreement,” he said.

When questions to the media were opened, Johnson was pressed about the lack of visits to the border by him during his time as Prime Minister and earlier as Foreign Secretary.

He did say: “I’ve seen the old border and how absolutely vital it is we keep the open border, on the plan, it’s fairly obvious, we need to find a way of ensuring that the UK is not kept locked in backstop arrangement while giving Ireland the assurance that it needs.”

It was less than convincing from Johnson and he made the callow youth Varadkar look like the grown-up one of the pair.

Asking one senior politician as to the likely positives from the meeting, he quipped: "All least they are talking."

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