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26 October 2018

The Sun discovers that strong leadership in the national interest is bad

Take that, Leo Varadkar.

By media mole

Strong leadership in the national interest. A confrontational approach to Brexit negotiations. A willingness to tell the bigger partner where to go. Just what the Sun has been crying out for, right?

Not when it’s Leo Varadkar. Over the past year, the taoiseach has emerged the tabloid’s Brexit bete noire. “Gobby”, “patronising”, “pompous”, “an airhead”, and “a snivelling suck up” are just some of the thoughtful epithets it has used to raise, er, principled objections to the Irish upstart’s temerity throughout the Brexit process.

For “upstart”, by the way, read “head of government of an independent country”, and for “temerity”, read, “not letting the Brexiteers have their own way”.

The latest instalment in the Sun campaign to secure Varadkar’s re-election comes from Harry Cole, the paper’s Westminster correspondent and resident Oireachtas wonk.

Varadkar at his smug and insufferable best, grandstanding to the shinners. pic.twitter.com/WTGrn8kZ2b

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— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) October 25, 2018


His “analysis” of Varadkar’s frankly pretty banal reflections on British attitudes to Ireland has, rather predictably, gone viral. And not because of its insightful take on the dynamics of the next election to the Dail Eireann.

The first problem is the most obvious: if Varadkar is grandstanding, it isn’t to “the Shinners”. Leo Varadkar is by Irish standards a very right-wing politician, and by European ones a boring centre-right Christian democrat.

Sinn Fein are, among what your mole will diplomatically call “other things”, left-wing populists. It’s like saying Peter Bone is grandstanding for the Corbynistas. They are not fishing in the same electoral pool. Nope, not a thing. Sorry. And on Brexit, they, like Varadkar’s Fine Gael and every other main party, are on the same page.

The second is more fundamental. What is it that the right don’t like about Varadkar? Your Mole suspects they don’t like it up ‘em, to borrow a Sun-ism. Far from grandstanding, the taoiseach is doing what any sane national leader in his position would: leveraging Ireland’s position of strength to prevent a damaging Brexit wrecking its economy. In other words: exactly what the UK hasn’t being doing.