Irish premier expresses ‘relief’ at Boris Johnson’s majority win

Irish premier Leo Varadkar said he was “relieved for my country”, as Boris Johnson won an outright majority in the UK General Election.

Speaking on Friday in Brussels, Mr Varadkar said the results boded well for those who supported the Withdrawal Agreement, as backing from the Prime Minister’s own party should see the deal ratified by January 31, and facilitate an orderly exit for the UK from the EU.

“Well, first of all, I want to congratulate Prime Minister Johnson, it’s an enormous victory for him on a personal level and a very clear result for his party,” he said.

“It’s a positive thing that we have a decisive outcome in Britain in their elections. We had for a few years a parliament that wasn’t able to form a majority around anything.

“I’m relieved, I’m relieved for my country and I’m also relieved for the UK. We’ve really had deadlock and gridlock for years now, now that’s going to pass.

“Now we have a majority in the House of Commons to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, and next steps will be to ratify that agreement which guarantees no hard border between north and south, the protection of the Common Travel Area and British and Irish citizens’ rights will be protected.

“And then we go on to the next phase of Brexit which will be negotiating a mighty new partnership between the EU and UK and I think that can be done.”

The Irish government, along with 27 EU member states, have backed Boris Johnson’s controversial Withdrawal Agreement, which failed to pass the House of Commons.

Mr Johnson did not have the parliamentary arithmetic within his own party and his party’s previous confidence and supply partners the DUP, who opposed the deal, to ratify the agreement.

Mr Varadkar added that he “deeply regrets” the UK’s decision to leave the EU but said the people “have confirmed that now with this election”.

“For us, it’s a case now of getting Northern Ireland working again, getting the Withdrawal Agreement ratified, which gives us the guarantees we’ve always needed on the hard border and citizens’ rights and the shared objective the Prime Minister and I have on negotiating a deep and economic future partnership, a trade deal-plus,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said the next priority must be to get Northern Ireland’s institutions up and running.

Talks between the parties are due to start on Monday in an effort to clear the deadlock which has kept Northern Ireland without a government for over 1,000 days.

“I’m keen to work very hard with Prime Minister Johnson to get the Executive and Assembly up and running again in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“That’s absolutely crucial now and has to be a key priority the next few weeks.”