Brexit fury as Leo Varadkar accuses UK of ‘disengaging from the world’

Brexit fury as Leo Varadkar accuses UK of ‘disengaging from the world’

Leo Varadkar launches an attack on the UK Government

Ben Chapman

By Ben Chapman

Published: 06/10/2023

- 17:44

The Taoiseach commented on the language used by the Conservative party

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has spoken out on concerns that the UK is “disengaging from the world”.

The Taoiseach commented on the language used by the Conservative party at their conference in Manchester this week about potentially leaving the European Convention on Human Rights, describing it as “not the Britain I know”.

Varadkar was speaking in Spain ahead of a meeting with Rishi Sunak, where they were attending a European Political Community meeting.

He intends to speak to the prime minister about the UK Government’s efforts to restore the power sharing institutions at Stormont.

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar has accused the UK of 'disengaging from the world'


Asked whether he was concerned about the language used at the conference earlier in the week, he said: “I am, to be honest.”

“The Britain, the United Kingdom that I love and admire is the country of the Magna Carta, the country that founded a parliamentary democracy and the country that helped to write the European Convention on Human Rights.


“And it does bother me to see the United Kingdom disengaging from the world, whether it’s reducing its budget for international aid, whether it’s leaving the European Union, and now even talking about withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights, that’s not the Britain I know.”

The UK’s new act to deal with the legacy of the Northern Ireland Troubles will also be a point of order during discussions with Sunak, Varadkar confirmed.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act received royal assent last month in the face of widespread opposition.

Aspects of the laws include a limited form of immunity from prosecution for Troubles-related offences to those who co-operate with the new Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery. It will also halt future civil cases and inquests.

Kemi Badenoch

Kemi Badenoch has spoken on the prospect of leaving the European Court of Human Rights


The Irish government is seeking legal advice on the matter, with a view to potentially taking an inter-state legal case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Varadkar said: “We will certainly discuss the issue of the UK legacy legislation.

“That’s something the Irish government is very opposed to, so are the victims’ groups, so are the five main parties in Northern Ireland.

“We believe it is potentially a contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights and certainly I will be saying that to the Prime Minister.”

At the conference, Cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Kemi Badenoch backed keeping open the option of leaving the court as the Government continues to struggle with its efforts to curb unauthorised Channel crossings.

But there were signs of a Cabinet split as Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said exiting the ECHR is not necessary to “protect our borders” and security minister Tom Tugendhat questioned that such a move could create problems for the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has made threats about the ECHR as her Rwanda asylum policy remains stalled in the courts following legal challenges.

Badenoch, the Business Secretary, told the Sunday Times that leaving the ECHR is “definitely something that needs to be on the table”.

Gove, who supported Badenoch in the Tory leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson, said they should “keep every option open” when asked at the Conservative conference in Manchester.

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