Oh dear Leo! Varadkar’s disastrous Brexit miscalculation exposed – ‘It was a huge blunder’

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Ray Bassett analyses the situation Ireland faced after the 2016 referendum during his new book, ‘Ireland and the EU Post Brexit’ – and his conclusions will make hard reading for the country’s former Taoiseach. Mr Bassett suggests in the course of his book that Mr Varadkar was essentially insulated from reality by civil servants who were totally immersed in the culture of the EU. 

As such, the Fine Gael leader had been unable to countenance the idea of the UK actually breaking away from Brussels, Mr Bassett claims.

Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told Express.co.uk: “Leo was totally supported by senior officials inside the civil service and especially by Ireland’s diplomats.

“Clearly, Leo placed a heavy bet on the Remainers succeeding in London or alternatively on Theresa May delivering a very anaemic Brexit.”

As such, Mr Varadkar, who stepped down as Ireland’s leader last month, with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin replacing him, had done everything in his power to thwart the democratic outcome in the UK, Mr Bassett said.

He added: “It was a major gamble which risked seriously alienating Brexit supporters and especially the Conservative Party.

“The gamble failed and Ireland is now facing a very difficult situation.

“It is clear that Leo was encouraged by Remainers in London, some holding very high posts in Government.

“He was also greatly encouraged by the EU Commission.

“Opposing a fair deal for the UK was never in Ireland’s interests. It was a huge blunder.”

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Mr Bassett identifies Mr Johnson’s predecessor as a weak link during the course of his book – but says both Brussels and Dublin overplayed their hands.

He writes: “Theresa May proved to be a very poor Prime Minister, but she was prepared to be reasonable in the Brexit negotiations, probably too reasonable.

“Unfortunately this was not reciprocated on the EU and indeed Irish Government side.

“They pushed May into accepting a wholly unequal Withdrawal Agreement which essentially ended her Premiership.

“There was no way the House of Commons was going to accept it.

“The EU side had pushed too far and destroyed their moderate interlocutor.”

Mr Bassett added: “As May fell from grace, Dublin watched while its Brexit policy fell asunder.

“The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned of dangerous times ahead as May’s political career came to an inglorious end, but with no admission of Ireland’s key role in her demise.

“It was the culmination of a number of miscalculations.”

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