Leo’s little thrill... but don’t take Brexit for Granted

For the tourist Taoiseach, getting a peak inside the famous black door was in his own words “a little thrill”.

But real life, and especially that of a political leader, isn’t always like the movies as Leo Varadkar quickly realised on his first trip out of the country as head of Government.

Mr Varadkar’s Downing St meeting with Theresa May acted as an eyeballing before the real Brexit staring match begins.

But as he beamed on entering Number 10, it appeared that our new Taoiseach was not just blinded by the 31-degree sunshine, but by the occasion itself.

At a press conference after their meeting, a smiling Mr Varadkar turned to Ms May.

“We spoke on the way in and I was reminded of that famous scene in Love Actually where Hugh Grant does his dance down the stairs but apparently it wasn’t actually filmed here, so I didn’t get a chance to see the stairs,” he said to some laughter from the assembled press gang.

The gushing continued: “It’s my first time in this building so there’s a little thrill in it as well.”

The first rule in any negotiation is to never show your hand. But Mr Varadkar, like a rookie poker player clutching a royal flush, couldn’t help hide his enthusiasm.

While good relationships with our nearest neighbour are important, this country will need to take a strong stance to avoid any hard Brexit and the implications it could have.

Mr Varadkar cannot forget that Ms May is the one trying to sever links, not just with Ireland but the European Union, and caution must be exercised.

The meeting was described by both sides as constructive. The two leaders have common ground and have come from similar positions. Both came to power without having faced the test of a general election.

While Ms May did put herself before the public earlier this month, the outcome of the British general election saw the Conservative party haemorrhage support and lose their majority in Westminster.

Instead of gaining a greater number of seats to underpin her hard Brexit stance ahead of talks in Brussels — which begin in earnest this week — Ms May now finds herself scrambling to establish a confidence and supply deal with the DUP.

The two leaders have now found themselves in a very similar situation of heading up shaky minority governments going into nation-shaping Brexit talks.

While cordiality and openness are to be welcomed, we cannot simply put all our cards on the table at once.

Mr Varadkar may need to work harder on his poker face.


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