Brexit news: Boris’s no-deal threat spooked ‘arrogant’ Varadkar into climbdown – expert | World | News

After  tried and failed three times to get her Withdrawal Agreement through the Houses of Parliament, she resigned as Prime Minister on July 24, with newly elected Tory leader replacing her. Ray Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, said Mr Johnson’s arrival in Number 10 rapidly disabused Fine Gael leader Mr Varadkar and deputy, , out of their assumption that a no deal Brexit would never be permitted in Westminster.

Writing in his new book, Ireland and the EU Post Brexit, Mr Bassett highlighted what he argues is the “folly” of Ireland “hitching its wagon” to the Backstop plan, a mechanism aimed at preventing a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland by tying the UK to some of the EU’s rules and regulations indefinitely.

He said: “Fortunately the Irish Government, late in the day, realised that their strategy would not work and undertook a radical U-turn.

“Up to that point, the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had been a loyal son of Brussels, throughout the Brexit negotiations.

“In contrast among Brexiteers in Britain, Varadkar and his chief lieutenant Simon Coveney have shouldered much of the blame for the intransigence and arrogance which has been associated with the EU.

“Polls in the UK consistently showed that Varadkar was blamed by many for the long and frustrating impasse.”

Mr Bassett suggests Mr Varadkar and Mr Coveney had been happy to go along with such a perception, “coupling it with a hefty dose of old-fashioned Anglophobia”.

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“Subsequently, the results of the local elections in England and later the European elections in summer 2019 brought a change of leadership in London and with it, the cold realisation in Dublin that the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson was prepared to leave the EU with or without a deal.

“He was determined to deliver on the result of the referendum.”

Concerns within Ireland about the prospect of a no deal outcome began to drag down Mr Varadkar’s poll ratings.

Subsequently, Mr Varadkar had met with Mr Johnson at Chequers for “direct and productive” talks which resulted in the Backstop being “greatly modified”.

Mr Bassett said: “After the Varadkar-Johnson meeting, there was a temporary surge in support for the Taoiseach and his Fine Gael Party.

“The achievement of a deal which avoided a hard border and allowed fpr a smooth withdrawal was popular in the Republic, even if it had no real impact on the country’s subsequent general election in February 2020, which Varadkar lost heavily.

He added: “Varadkar played a constructive and supportive role in helping Johnson secure a more acceptable withdrawal deal.

“However, without the threat of a No Deal, neither Varadkar nor the EU would have moved an inch.

“They would have had no incentive to do so.”

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