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Leo Varadkar’s ruthless pursuit of power He won Brexit — but at what cost?

'Dispirited and unpopular' Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

'Dispirited and unpopular' Charles McQuillan/Getty Images


March 21, 2024   5 mins

Leo Varadkar resigned as all political leaders do: dispirited and unpopular, the sheen of his early years long since wiped away by the grinding realities of government. His party, Fine Gael, now trails badly in the polls. Ireland’s housing crisis borders on the obscene. And a certain edginess seems to have attached itself to the country he leads; a sense of popular discontent, even anger, simmering under the surface. Looking back, then, what is his legacy? Easy. He won Brexit.

This, undoubtedly, is an anglocentric view. For the average Irish voter, no doubt, the basics of life are more important. Are they better off now than before? Can their kids afford a home? And what about the great new issue in Irish life, immigration as opposed to emigration? Ultimately, Varadkar leaves office after defeat, not victory, having lost a set of referendums to change the constitution on matters relating to the family. As he wrapped up his resignation statement one reporter shouted out the question everyone assumed: was he resigning because he had lost?

But whatever problems Ireland has, the raw truth is that they are now, ultimately, rich-country problems. Would you rather be so poor people have to leave, or so rich people want to come? One of the more dispiriting journeys I have taken recently was from Kerry back to family in Great Yarmouth. You don’t need to study GDP tables to realise much of Ireland is now genuinely wealthy, even if its figures are ludicrously exaggerated by the presence of tax-doging American tech giants based there, and much of the UK is not.

In an important sense, Varadkar symbolised this new Ireland of self-interested prosperity. And it wasn’t just because he was the first gay Taoiseach or the son of an Indian father who moved to Dublin that made him modern. Though these things might be noteworthy, they are less important than the simple fact that Varadkar represented rich Ireland. He did not grow up in a country which automatically looked to Britain. Varadkar’s Ireland was European, Dublin closer to Amsterdam than Belfast. And it was this, in part, which contributed to his central achievement as Taoiseach during Brexit.

The scale of Britain’s defeat in the Brexit negotiations really does bear repeating. When Varadkar became Taoiseach in June 2017, the nature of the new economic border between the UK and Ireland had not been settled. Indeed, at that point, Theresa May was still months away from promising that there would be no physical infrastructure erected on the land border, ever.

“This strangely awkward and aloof man became a liberal pin-up outside Ireland.”

Yet six months after Varadkar became Taoiseach, May agreed the now infamous “backstop”. This confirmed, for the first time, that should the UK government not come up with another proposal to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, London would “maintain full alignment” with all the EU rules necessary to keep the border open. And, with that, Varadkar had achieved his victory. London had taken on responsibility for maintaining the open border, agreeing to align with the EU where necessary while the EU could continue changing its rules as it saw fit.

This was — and remains — an astonishing triumph. As one figure in Dublin put it to me: “I remember being in a taxi that Sunday night. We just could not believe the British had accepted the text. We knew it would not be acceptable to the unionists.”

The “Joint Report”, as it became known, was the culmination of one of Varadkar’s earliest decisions as Taoiseach. As Philip Ryan and Niall O’Conner write in their biography, Leo: A Very Modern Taoiseach, shortly after winning the leadership Varadkar held discussions with his new Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney — the man he had beaten in the leadership contest — in which they “agreed that they would adopt the most hardline stance possible in relation to the border”. The position he took was simple: not our problem.

Varadkar argued that since Britain had created the problem by voting to leave the EU, so Britain should devise a solution. And Ireland would not accept anything involving checks on the land border. In essence, the UK could choose to align with the EU entirely or ensure that just Northern Ireland did. As Ryan and Niall O’Conner put it: “Fine Gael was not prepared to allow the border to re-emerge.”

Varadkar had calculated — correctly — that for the first time in Irish history, Britain was in a weaker position than Ireland. It was not, after all, Ireland negotiating with the UK but the whole of the European Union. Because of the shock of Brexit, the European Union quickly decided that it needed to display the benefits of membership. And so it became canon that Britain could not have any divorce agreement without first signing up to commitments ensuring “full alignment” between Northern Ireland and the Republic to avoid the need for a hard land border.

From the moment Theresa May made the commitment in December 2017, Britain has not been able to free itself from this finger trap designed in Brussels. The culmination of this long, weary process only came in February last year with the “Windsor Framework” giving Stormont extra powers over the European laws that will apply in Northern Ireland, but maintaining the same essential structure created by Varadkar’s hardline stance back in 2017.

For many unionists, this is why Varadkar inspires such hate. Partly, they are justified. Varadkar made some serious missteps as Taoiseach. When I last visited East Belfast, there were posters plastered in loyalist areas quoting his own warning from 2018 that “the possibility of a return to violence is very real”. Critics argue that he was using the prospect of IRA violence as a diplomatic weapon to achieve the outcome he wanted in the Brexit negotiations. Fair or otherwise, it was an objectionable thing to say.

There was still no love lost among senior unionists yesterday. When I asked a few senior figures what his legacy would be, one replied: “Destroying relations between NI [Northern Ireland] & ROI [the Republic] through his wrecking ball approach to Brexit.” Another said he was the first Fine Gael leader to make unionists want a Fianna Fail-led government. Fine Gael is the party that emerged from the Irish Civil War as the pro-Treaty party, accepting partition as “the freedom to achieve freedom”, as Michael Collins put it. Fianna Fail, the Republican party, opposed the Treaty.

And yet, I have always been struck by the observation repeated to me in both Dublin and Belfast that for Varadkar and Coveney, it is partly this history that explains their hard-line stance on the border. They represented a party less emotionally invested in unification and a generation whose interest in Northern Ireland was defined mostly by the lack of it. They didn’t think about Northern Ireland. They saw it much as unionists in the north once saw the south: poor and backward. Unlike the older generation who lived through the Troubles, or those in Fianna Fail whose Republicanism ran so deep they felt more of an obligation to maintain relationships with the unionists in Belfast, Varadkar and Coveney were free to pursue much more straightforwardly the national interest. They would not accept a land border or any diminution of Ireland’s membership of the single market simply to ameliorate unionists.

The cost of this approach has been a breakdown in relations with Northern Ireland’s unionists. Yet, even on this score, it looks today as if Varadkar’s judgement has been vindicated. The institutions in Northern Ireland are back up and running, the border runs down the Irish Sea just as he wanted, and there is now an overwhelming consensus in the British parliament to maintain this new settlement. Indeed, to many in London, Varadkar is seen as something of a hero because he opposed the British political leadership committed to Brexit.

Varadkar leaves office with his country as rich and European as ever. But he represents this new Ireland, much as Tony Blair represented new Britain. Yet, as with Blair, modernity comes with its own problems. Today, it is Sinn FĂ©in — one time bastion of socialist euroscepticism — that is best placed to inherit this unequal, angsty Ireland. No longer the party of the bomb and the ballot box, they are the party of the populist revolt. Ireland might be rich, but most people don’t feel it.

Varadkar said yesterday that he felt he could finally step away from office now that the Good Friday institutions were back up and running and the trading relationship with the UK was secure. Job done. He was right to say so. What happens if there is a Sinn Fein administration in Dublin pushing for unification referendums? New Ireland indeed.

And so we say goodbye to this strangely awkward and aloof Taoiseach who became a liberal pin-up outside Ireland — even though his final lesson was in the ruthless pursuit of naked national interest.


Tom McTague is UnHerd’s Political Editor. He is the author of Betting The House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election.

TomMcTague

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Mike Downing
Mike Downing
4 months ago

I can’t tell you how much I loathe that creep.

Hopefully Justine will be able to send him over those shamrock-themed socks from Canada to cheer him up.

But of course, his paymasters in Brussels will have lined up a safe ‘job’ for their little lapdog.

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

The worst of the worst

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

The Sun nailed it: “EU Toady”

John Murray
John Murray
4 months ago

“his final lesson was in the ruthless pursuit of naked national interest”
I mean, yeah? That was his job. It is an odd sort of an article, it is written in a tone as if it is delivering biting criticism, but is actually mostly high praise. Giving a sod about Unionists or the UK was not his brief, be mad at others if you think Varadkar stitched them up.

Kevin Dee
Kevin Dee
4 months ago
Reply to  John Murray

It would have been great if he had pursued the national interest. I think Leo was always playing to an audience outside of Ireland, even the Brexit negotiations he was mostly doing the EUs bidding. No doubt he will find a cushy job in Europe or the US now.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
4 months ago

This is a really, really good article. Congratulations!.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
4 months ago

It’s no better than his usual ramblings.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
4 months ago

And I thought it ridiculous and lacking any insights. And I also think the real reason for Varadkar’s resignation is yet to emerge. I have my suspicions.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
4 months ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

“Live by the d*ck, die by the d*ck”?

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago

This is one of the most confusing yet fascinating articles that I’ve ever read. I never even considered how EU membership would effect Northern Ireland. I’m an American so take that with a grain of salt. I had to keep going back to cross reference each Political Party with their relationship to Unionists and Loyalists.

It sounds like Varadkar is just a politician with no fixed positions. He just goes whatever way the wind blows. But he was eventually put in a situation where he had to be authentic to his values or populist and he chose to be authentic, which the people rejected. He then resigned. I can respect that.

Graeme Crosby
Graeme Crosby
4 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Varadkar is a product and representative of”Rich” Ireland.

He is a Liberal pinup abroad because of his “progressive” policies but as with many other countries his laissez faire attitude to immigration both legal and illegal and the detriments it brings to those at the bottom of the income and housing pile, has ultimately brought him down. He could only see the benefits of what this brought to “rich” Ireland and had no concept or care for the effects on poorer people or the massive cultural shift being forced upon the population all across the country.
As so many other progressives do, he could only categorise any resistance to his policies as wicked or racist because he (in his mind) is unfailingly good and this attitude is reflected back to him unchanged by the “Rich Ireland” liberal, progressive, echo chamber which he inhabits.

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Crosby

Thanks for the education, sir!

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
4 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

You’ve got it the wrong way around. Varadkar (Fine Gael)and Martin (Fianna Fail) thought bogus ‘progressive’ wokery was the populist, vote-getting position and so prostitued their parties to it. Only to discover they’ve been backing the wrong horse. It beggars belief how looney lefties have eaten into the brains of these centre- right parties.

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago
Reply to  Miriam Cotton

I just meant “Populist” in the sense that a politician is basically following popular polling in the present moment. I read a background history on the guy. He switched all his positions whenever polling called for it.

It’s confusing that your centre-right parties are so socially progressive. Americans tend to view Ireland as a traditionalist country.

Graeme Crosby
Graeme Crosby
4 months ago

Glad to see the back of him.

One thing the author reminded me of regarding Theresa May was the “backstop”. I’d forgotten about that when I listed all her terrible decisions over the years as Home Sec and PM, when she announced her stepping down recently.

Another absolutely disastrous idea from her to be added to her long list of disasters.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
4 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Crosby

If triumphing over the half-wit May is his crowning glory, then he has little to be proud of.
I suspect he will be actually be remembered for accelerating Irelands conversion into a fully fledged Brussels colony – to the benefit of its self-appointed “elites” and at the expense of its general population.
Mediocrity at its worst.

Graeme Crosby
Graeme Crosby
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Agree absolutely

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The half-wit May was agreed with Brussels and Dublin. So half-wit or traitor?

Margie Murphy
Margie Murphy
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

100%

denz
denz
4 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Crosby

It was her embarrassing dancing around Africa that showed everyone her level.

David Butler
David Butler
4 months ago

People don’t come to a country because it’s so rich. The UAE is a rich country but they don’t have an immigration problem.
People come to a country because of the largesse.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
4 months ago
Reply to  David Butler

From Human Rights Watch:

Although the UAE’s labor law explicitly prohibits and criminalizes all forms of forced labor, rampant labor abuses including indebtedness, passport confiscation and job immobility leave migrant workers in highly vulnerable situations that in many cases even amount to forced labor.

It sounds like UAE does have an immigration problem – just a different one to that in Western democracies.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago

It isn’t an “immigration” problem in any way, though it might be a human rights one of poor treatment of migrant workers. The approach of only allowing in the workers themselves, for fixed periods of time or for the length of their employment, and not allowing the workers to bring their families or giving them exact essentially exactly the same rights as the indigenous population, is precisely the right approach. Western Europe and North America should be adopting it and it would also be very popular But because of so called “progressive values”, they won’t….

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago
Reply to  David Butler

This comment is scarcely relevant to the subject of the article! Immigration was mentioned in passing.

Some people on this forum incapables actually sticking to a topic, constantly going off on their own favorite hobby horses!

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
4 months ago

This article is seemingly about Varadker and Ireland, but in truth it is about the sheer, jaw-dropping failure and betrayal the Tories have perpetrated on the British people over the last decade. The emphasis here is on the Irish border issues but that failure was across the board. It is now becoming ever clearer that different sections of the head of the Tory party have been attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of the British people in different ways, ever since the referendum didn’t go to way the blob wanted. Some (the Gaukes and the Grieves and the Stuarts, and yes, the Hunts) have attempted an outright reversion: you the British people they say with disdain, are simply wrong and we will therefore just ignore what you want, never mind that one of our number was stupid enough to offer up for cynical reasons what he thought was a surefire bet. Another section, May et al, talked tough while conceding every inch of the way on every single issue, even when they genuinely did not need to – just a straight up dereliction of duty. Why seek office if that is what you are going to do? Yet another section, Johnson et al, were nakedly cynical, but we stupid plebs, stupidly thought, because we are stupid, that veneer of cynicism was hiding depths of public duty and a wish to deliver what the British people wanted. But no, the cynicism went all the way down, until it came out on the other side into the Sea of Grift.

But the game is up.

If Varadker has a legacy, it is that he is the inadvertent agent chosen by providence to bring about the demise of the Tory party, notwithstanding that he is just yet another expression of modern technocratic blobbery. He should be proud of that, although I doubt he cares.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

The Tories promised the British people a unicorn, and won a referendum on that promise. The ‘sheer jaw-dropping failure’ may be in not delivering the unicorn, but the betrayal is in promising one in the first place.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

What we Eurosceptics *never* expected, was to actually be given the chance to vote – and when the chance arose, we pounced. That the vote was offered at all, was ostensibly a miscalculation by Cameron – but this ignores the fact that he was reacting to the core Conservative base being slowly eroded towards UKIP. People forget, UKIP was making *very* significant gains in Euro and council elections, and it was only a matter of time before that translated into an avalanche of seats – as Labour learned to it’s cost in it’s wipeout to the SNP in Scotland. That Labour *ignored* it’s vote being cannibalised by UKIP in the midlands and north was the reason they lost in 2015, and what’s more they continued to stick their heads in the sand – as demonstrably shown by 2017 and 2019. Cameron was simply trying to preempt falling victim to the same fate as Labour – and although a failure for him personally, the result for his party was patent. However, Deals with the Devil come with a pricetag.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

All true enough – but the Brexiteers still had – and refused – the chance of running an honest campaign. If leave had campaigned on ‘this may cost us but will be FREE’, no one (remainers included) could have complained about a victory for Brexit. Of course, if the Brexiteers had run an honest campaign they would have had to explain what the cost might be, and would quite likely have lost.

Getting the issue settled by referendum may not have been a bad idea. Running the referendum on an obvious lie was a recipe for disaster.

Graeme Crosby
Graeme Crosby
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Always interesting to read how Brexiteers lied, blah, blah.

I assume it has escaped your memory that the Remain campaign promised that immediately after a leave vote (not enacted, just the vote) that the economy would immediately crash, house prices would drop by 25%, unemployment would shoot up to 8% along with many other obviously hyperbolic claims that most could see through for what they were.

Remember them? What would you call those claims?

The idea that the Remain campaign was holier than thou and the Brexit campaign was the devil incarnate is historical revisionism of the worst kind and utterly false.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Crosby

Those were clearly exaggerations, yes. But I still see a difference between the two sides.

1) The remainer doomsday scenarios were possible, but maybe not that likely. That depended on the general behaviour of the economy, which is pretty much unpredictable. The promises of the leavers OTOH, depended on the behaviour of the EU nations, which was very predictable indeed. It is true that Brexit could have been a great success if the EU had cooperated and made some sacrifices to ensure that the result was good for Britain. But it is absolutely impossible that the EU would ever do so – they would not feel like being nice, it would be against their interests, and Britain was not strong enough to force them.

2) When you are making a radical and irreversible change, you generally pay a lot of attention to a reasonable worst-case scenario, compared with what you already have. You do not spend all your money on scratchcards based on the assumption that you are certainly going to win big.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It’s a good thing that Britain left the EU. Many countries still in it are jealous that their British counterparts were able to get out of it so relatively easily.

Peter B
Peter B
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Utter nonsense.
There’s cognitive dissonance at work on both sides of the Brexit debate. But it’s off the scale on the Remain side. They just keep trying to rationalise why they lost and blame it all on the Brexiteers.
Same question as I put last week in another thread: do you blame the opposition manager when your team loses at football ?
Just to put this in context, it was Remain who wrote the rules for this particular game. And had all the funding. And control of the media. And provided the ref.
And they still lost.
But it still wasn’t their fault !!!
Get real.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Oh, it is easy enough to see why we lost. We were pushing to stay with the current, humdrum reality with all its known drawbacks. Leave had a lovely dream of everything being different and much better, and a world-class charming liar like Johnson to promote it. You did not even have to present a consistent story – everybody could vote for their own personal dream. Also just the wish for change: “We need something different. This is different – therefore we need it“. The interesting bit is why people let themselves be convinced that Brexit had any hope of actually working as advertised, but one way or the other you managed.

So you won the war, but let us look at who won the peace. I’d say Brussels, and Dublin. Did the UK get the world’s easiest trade deal? Do you have full access to the EU market and also full freedom so set your own rules for your own benefit? Is there lots more money to spend on the NHS? Is the UK making new and exciting deals all over the world that could never have been done from within the EU? Does the UK have more freedom of movement, more respect, more power to make things the way they want? I sure do not see it – but those were the promises.

You won – and this is what it got you. Personally I think that it could never have gone any different – your promises were ridiculously unrealistic from the word go. But the alternative explanation is that you got what you wanted, but were so totally clueless and incompetent that you were not able to deliver on it. Either way, you have no one to blame but yourself.

charlie martell
charlie martell
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Most of the UK ‘s economic issues are caused by the useless Tories obeying their bosses at the Treasury. Not Brexit.

B Emery
B Emery
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

‘All true enough – but the Brexiteers still had – and refused – the chance of running an honest campaign’

As far as I understood it brexit included a free trade mandate. I thought we were going to trade with loads of people we couldn’t before, cut regulations etc.
Instead what has actually happened is our government forgot all about that and why it is important. Instead of doing that, which was the original plan, what they did instead was get themselves into a European war despite the fact we aren’t even part of Europe anymore, cost us a fortune, got themselves embroiled in a sanction war type fiasco with not only Russia but China as well – which completely contradicts the original idea of a free trade nation and has completely messed up the economy, then finished it off by having a massive internal tory b*tch fight over the whole thing.
So it’s not so much that the campaign wasn’t honest more that they seem to have completely forgotten the original campaign and what it was they were trying to achieve in the first place, especially when it comes to the free trade part. There’s a chance this could have improved the economy but they have murdered it instead.
Nevermind.

Peter B
Peter B
4 months ago
Reply to  B Emery

The question was very simple: “Do you want to be in the EU or leave it ?”.
Cameron was responsible for everything else.
There was no requirement on the Leave campaign to provide any solutions.
We did what we were asked.
Cameron promised to implement the will of the people.
Before he ran away.

B Emery
B Emery
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yes I agree the referendum was just a stay or leave choice, but then boris was elected on a free trade mandate, as far I know anyway – that was supposed to be one of the benefits of brexit. Along with cutting immigration and EU regulations.
So yes the leave campaign as far as leaving the EU is concerned has done what it was asked, the government that was elected on a mandate to utilise brexit to free trade, cut immigration and regulations hasn’t though.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

So, you took a momentous decision, but you refuse to take any responsibility for the consequences??

Still, you have point. By asking the question, Cameron allowed people to believe that both answers led to a sensible continuation. I suppose if Cameron had called a referendum on whether Britain should reconquer its Indian colonies, many might have naively believed that a ‘yes’ vote would lead to a successful conquest. But would you?

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
4 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Blobbery is officially my new favourite word. Thank you for that.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
4 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Of course the Tories betrayed the vote of 2016. Fior decades, they had lied through their front teeth. Geoffrey Howe QC wrote the European Communities Act which recognised the ECJ’s self-pronounced claim to supranational authority, in contrast to the terms of the Rome Treaty; Heath and Howe were paid up supra nationalists. They waved the flag when it suited them; Their successors continued until June 23 2016, when they stood their naked for all to see. Hence their anger: they could no longer lie.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

Let’s not forget John Major and his cronies Heseltine and |Clarke, who pushed through the thinly disguised coup d’Ă©tat of the Maastricht Treaty without even the pretence of seeking consent.

Timothy Baker
Timothy Baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Agree completely. When it comes to compiling a list of the worst ever Tory PM it is going to be difficult to choose between those who were stupid and deceptive, like May, and those who were incompetent and deceptive, like Sunak and those who were totally devious and deceptive like Cameron. Personally I would give them all a fair trial and then , when found guilty, shoot them.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Timothy Baker

May is owed some respect, at least. She did her best to deliver the hardest possible Brexit deal, while avoiding either no-deal or a border in the Irish Sea. Maybe someone else could have done a little better, but not much – it is not her fault that she had a losing hand to play. My list would be between Cameron, who proposed a referendum on a policy he himself thought was nonsense for purely tactical reasons. And Johnson, who solved May’s problem by promising the impossible and then simply breaking his word.

John Galt Was Correct
John Galt Was Correct
4 months ago

I’m not sure that Varadkar ‘won’ Brexit as such, rather than the British state had a civil war over a referendum that many didn’t like the answer to and beat themselves. I’ve also had a long suspicion that the UK would leave NI as fast as possible once an honourable exit can be achieved, and in that, Varadkar has helped the British state out markedly.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago

That assumes that:
1) Ireland has any real desire and ability to take over Northern Ireland.
2) Ireland has financial ability to support NI deprived of English subsidy.
3) Ireland has military capability (remember Dubliners song about Irish Army?) to contain NI Unionist. That would make Donbas situation nothing in comparison, with Unionist enjoying support of many English people.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Britain leaving NI is not the same as unification. There could be an independent NI state, maybe sharing the monarch with Britain like Canada, Australia etc.

Paul K
Paul K
4 months ago

‘No longer the party of the bomb and the ballot box, they are the party of the populist revolt.’

Not really. Sinn Fein are aligned with the current Irish coalition government on the key issues that the public are increasingly rebelling against, most obviously mass immigration. SF also supported the government on the recent referendum and got a kicking for it. SF have retooled themselves as an SNP-style woke nationalist party at the very moment that rising populism is pulling the rug out from under their feet.
Irish citizens may also be allowed a grim smile at the reality that this ‘rich country’ can’t fix the potholes in its roads, build enough houses for its people or provide enough hospital beds for its sick, despite the whole country being just the size of Manchester. Almost makes you wonder where all that money actually goes …

David Brown
David Brown
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul K

their roads are still better than here though, unsurprisingly

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul K

Well if my town is a reasonable gauge… The private sector has stopped building houses. All the new houses are council houses. So if you want a life with a house get yourself on a list… finally bought a house ourselves . Its outrageous how the government through its agencies is buying whole estates from private builders or monopolising labour to build council houses. This is pushing house prices up for everyone so hard work no longer gets you a house. The houses are going to whoever is next on the housing list. That this is happening with the so called right wing party is especially ominous. All sinn fein want to do is accelerate this shift yo politicians and beurocrars divying up the housing stock. Eg they want to stop the rebate workers currently get when trting to purchase. The media never points this out. They just tslk about increasing socisl housing. In the interests of balance i should note that pension funds also buy/build a huge amount around dublin. Of new builds i think its about one third council houses, one thord pension funds, one third open market..madness

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

How about emigrating and then coming back as an immigrant? That should get you higher on the waiting list.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Good one!

Harry Phillips
Harry Phillips
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

He’d have to destroy his passport at the airport.

Josie Bowen
Josie Bowen
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Absolutely right, Unherd Reader. Others buying homes in Ireland are newly arrived Indians and South Africans, creating some resentment let me say, from Irish couples who’ve been paying rent while saving up an enormous deposit to try to buy their own homes over a period of ten years and more. The Irish stand little chance of home ownership.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
4 months ago

Boris, Ian, Jeffrey, Sammy, Leo, and Simon all played on a football team together. Boris was the star player. He was a bit of a bully and lazy but when he did get his act together he was class. He scored a lot of goals and was very popular with the girls. He was from a footballing family and his grandfather had won some big cup back in 1966, but nobody could remember the details since it was so long ago. Ian, Jeffrey, and Sammy idolized Boris and wanted to be just like him. Leo and Simon were on the outside, they rarely got their game and Boris picked on them a lot. But their families had played this game for 800 years, so they weren’t going to give up now.

As the years went by, Boris got lazier and lazier and the team’s form dried up. They got new management – a frenchman initially – and brought in new players. Things were looking up. They still weren’t winning much but at least they were being taken seriously by the American and Russian teams.

Then, they got a lady-manager from Germany. There were a lot of sniggers – especially from Ian and Sammy, but she was a tough lady with lots of experience. She was even a qualified medical doctor. She brought in players from overseas – Matteo, Donald, Josef. Leo and Simon trained very hard and started getting some game time. Their efforts were noticed by the new manager, Ursula. They were never goal-scorers but were good team-players, and always got assists when they played.

This bothered Boris. He was no longer the star player. He tried reminding everyone about 1966. But Ursula had a trick up her sleeve – her own footballing family had won this same cup in 1954, 1974, 1990, 2014. Boris had had enough. He quit the team, hoping to form his own “super-league”. Ian, Jeffrey, and Sammy went with him.

Much to everyone’s surprise, Leo and Simon insisted on staying behind. Boris bullied them and tried to force them to join his super-league. But Matteo, Donald, and Josef stood up for Leo and Simon. There was a strong team spirit that had been built up over the years and no one player – no matter how charming – was going to jeopardise that.

Leo and Simon now regularly start for the team and a lot of eager new players have joined. The defense is Polish and is very tough and gets stronger every year. There is one Hungarian who player who causes trouble every now and then. Some people say he is match-fixing with the Russians. Still, things are looking up. Even though Boris was a good player at times and very funny and charming, nobody misses him. Sammy, Ian, and Jeffrey now worry if they made the right choice by picking Boris’s team. Someday they will be reunited with their old team-mates.

Anthony Munnelly
Anthony Munnelly
4 months ago

Varadkar’s legacy will not be decided by Brexit. Brexit was, as the author states, Britain’s problem. Not Ireland’s, not the EU.

One of the rationales behind Brexit, if I remember it correctly, was that the EU would not hold the line. That Germany or France or Italy or somebody else could not do without British goods and would therefore make side-deals to continue that relationship.

This was a profound miscalculation by the Brexiteers, and a reflection of how badly the EU is understood in Britain. There has been no European war for eighty years, the longest period of continued peace in Europe in recorded history. There has been no war because the EU has showed the people of Europe that more unites them than divides them.

It is not a coincidence that the EU started as the European Coal and Steel Community, as coal and steel are what are needed to make guns. The EU, far from the authoritarian superstate portrayed by some in Britain, is actually a triumph of human will and hope – as will be evidenced by the welcome the UK will receive should it ever decide to return.

Anthony Loftus
Anthony Loftus
4 months ago

The peace then has nothing to do with the harsh memories/lessons of WW2 and of course NATO?
I am sure there was a war in the Balkans and that there is something happening in the Ukraine.

Anthony Munnelly
Anthony Munnelly
4 months ago
Reply to  Anthony Loftus

I thought I had made the connection between the harsh lessons of WW2 and the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community clear. If not, I’m happy to reiterate it now. The harsh lessons of WW2 led to the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community, which became the EEC and is now the EU.

I would not dismiss the contribution of NATO for a moment but I do think the European countries spend more time together working out EU issues than NATO issues. Hence my prioritisation of the EU.

Regarding the Balkans and war in Europe, I have two thoughts. The first is to paraphrase Bismarck’s remark about there always being some trouble in the Balkans. The second is to point out that, while it was never declared as such, there was something very close to a war going on in the United Kingdom itself for thirty years, but maybe it would be best to consider my remarks in their broadest sense, rather than getting a little picky over them.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago

The reason why UK chose terrible negotiating position was because of traitors in uncivil service and others like Theresa May and her ilk.
For a start, UK should had included 6 millions EU citizens making living in Britain as part of the bargain.
That includes Irish citizens as well.
EU wants to wage economic war on UK?
Great, but you citizens go back to EU.
Then, leaving EU means border between EU and UK, like we have between UK and France.
So UK should had said to EU and Ireland:
We don’t want border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, but if you insist on it, it is your call.
That required some spine from UK leaders, but they had none.
Probably because saintly Theresa May would rather betray Britain instead of giving up her walking holidays in Fourth Reich (otherwise known as EU).
I find Irish claiming to want united Ireland quite hilarious.
They have no answer to a basic question:
So how you support NI when English no longer pay the subsidy?

Anthony Munnelly
Anthony Munnelly
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Thank you for your thoughtful reply Andrew. I shall turn myself in at the Tower of London on Monday at 9am, bringing only my pyjamas and a good book.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

It’ll be back to “bacon & cabbage”.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
4 months ago

NATO kept the peace. Additionally neither the French or Italians had any ‘bottle’ left giving their deplorable conduct from 1940-46.

As for Germany the unprecedented barbarism they displayed should really have seen them expelled from the human race. The ‘Morgenthau Plan’ should have been implemented, but wasn’t due to US expediency, most regrettably it must be said.

Despite this revolting legacy the EU continues to bask in blissful denial.

Ana Cronin
Ana Cronin
4 months ago

Balkans & Kosovo

Philip Shirley
Philip Shirley
4 months ago

I think Varadkar made a strategic mistake over Brexit. The geographic reality of Ireland is that it is closer to Britain than Europe. A wilier Taioseach would have used Ireland’s unique position to have won concessions from both Westminster and Brussels. If the Republic had won the inverse position to the position achieved for Northern Ireland where it remained part of the EU but it could trade freely with the EU, this would have been greatly to Ireland’s advantage. Not only would it have avoided the disruption to Northern Ireland politics but it would give a positive reason for the North to join the South. In reality the North now has the best of both worlds and has no reason to join the South. Some people in the South may be thankful to Varadkar as they do not in reality want the North!

0 0
0 0
4 months ago

The Tony Blair of the green isle.

Graeme Crosby
Graeme Crosby
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Much worse I think.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
4 months ago

I think that the judgement on any politician, anywhere, is best made by the electorate and in the case of Leo Varadkar, this was delivered decisively in February 2020 when Fine Gael came in third behind Fianna FĂĄil (who had been on their knees after the 2011 election) and Sinn FĂ©in. This showed the lack of judgement of Fine Gael in June 2017 when the party establishment opted for Dr Varadkar over the choice of the Fine Gael party which was for Simon Coveney. The rationale behind choosing Varadkar was that he was a vote-getter and he would particularly deliver among young professionals and in Dublin. In the event he did neither.
What happened after the election which was beyond a hung DĂĄil, but rather a situation where there was neither a clear winner nor a clear coalition coupled by Covid leaving Varadkar in charge until June that year when the Civil War finally ended. Pundits will applaud Varadkar for handling the crisis, but they are not going to compare Ireland’s performance to Sweden or any other Scandanavian country. Meanwhile, Varadkar’s own personal behavior during the Lockdown, for example the ‘Lark in the Park’ when he and some of his pals were photographed picnicking in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in defiance of his own government’s finger wagging; Zapponegate – the farewell party for Dr Katherine Zappone who had been a minister in the previous government which Varadkar attended; and his trip to London to attend the Mighty Whoopla concert when there were still restrictions here was the sort of stuff that make one think Boris Johnson got a raw deal over Partygate. But the obvious question is how much Varadkar believed in the positions he publicly championed.
Most Irish observers who wouldn’t have followed Varadkar from his time in Young Fine Gael in Trinity College would have first noticed him through the correspondence pages of The Irish Times before and after his election to Fingal County Council in 2004. This created the image of a brash Tory boy who was caricatured by the Dublin satirical magazine The Phoenix. He was elected to the DĂĄil in 2007 and still posturing as a conservative until he took office in 2011. Around this time, I had a short e-mail correspondence with him on the topic of abortion, which he was opposed to at that time during his four years on the opposition benches. Between 2011 and 2017, he was minister of Transport and Sport (satirists had a field day on his holding of the sport portfolio – it wasn’t his strength), Health and Social Welfare in succession and he didn’t shine in any department. He then was Taoiseach, becoming revolving TĂĄnaiste/Taoiseach with MicheĂĄl Martin in June 2020, serving as TĂĄnaiste and Minister for Enterprise until resuming the office of Taoiseach in December 2022. He was investigated by An Garda SĂ­ochĂĄna at some point in regarding GP contracts (an area in which he had a professional interest) but no charges were brought.
Other than Covid, the one area pundits are likely to talk up Varadkar is in relation to Brexit and one might ask how he could achieve where Irish politicians of a higher stature failed. Well, the answer is that he didn’t. He had the European Union behind him and he was aware of that. He also, as observed here, didn’t feel the need to accommodate Unionists. From that point of view, the strategy advocated by MicheĂĄl Martin as leader of the Opposition at the time which was more conciliatory to both northern unionism and Britain was perhaps more responsible. But Varadkar was part of another phenomenon, that of a 26-county nationalist with little regard to the other six counties.
One thing some people noticed at the time was that as Varadkar was preparing to take the leadership of Fine Gael, he set aside extra time to learn Irish and to study Irish history, which is a terrible commentary on the education he got in the King’s Hospital and Trinity College (and he was the first, so far the only Trinity graduate to become Taoiseach). None of his predecessors needed to do this, despite the fact most of them did not benefit from private education.
Is Varadkar’s Ireland more European than previously? I doubt it. Try striking up a conversation in French or German or Spanish with a young person in Ireland and see how far you get. Don’t go there with other languages. To be honest, the old Catholic dominated Ireland maintained closer cultural links with (at least Latin) Europe than the current so-called Europhile Ireland does with our EU partners. Ireland is more a part of the Anglosphere than in the past and the wind blows mainly from Silicon Valley, making wokery the state religion. This is the Ireland of Leo Varadkar.
In all, Dr Varadkar has had a mercifully short political career of two decades prolonged by the absence of a credible opponent in his own party and eventually hastened by a twin defeat in referenda he didn’t need to hold. I am thinking of Enoch Powell’s verdict on how political careers end.

Graeme Crosby
Graeme Crosby
4 months ago

A fascinating and informative post. Thank you.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
4 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Crosby

Seconded

David McKee
David McKee
4 months ago

Bravo! Excellent post! (Puts McTague to shame…)

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
4 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Well, I am not constrained by journalistic ethics and I thought the article showed Varadkar from an interesting angle.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Why do you think that??

James Westby
James Westby
4 months ago

Maybe a slight irony, that he will be most remembered for doing his best to thwart the result of a referendum, only to be booted out for his failure to win a different one. I wonder if he believes in karma?

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
4 months ago

Varadkar rotated the premiership with MicheĂ l Martin. It was a coalition government.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago

Thanks a excellent article putting The blunt and naked truth especially so for the Brexiteers and Unionists
Maybe this helps them realise that they were and still inebriated and they wake up and aim for sobriety

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

On the contrary, it simply emphasises how vital it was the UK escaped the clutches of the EU, and the cost will always be worth it. Your “blunt and naked truth” will try to take Ireland where it manifestly doesn’t wish to go – as evidenced by the results of the recent referenda. Those results look pretty blunt and naked enough from the vantage point of the UK.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

How utterly delusional can you lot be
Just like the UK government or establishment truly are living in cloud Cuckoo land by way of simply not coming to terms with what is actually the true position UK now irrevocably trapped with no possible solutions
In sight
They simply refuse for whatever reason that the UK is technically bankrupt in every sense , in reality a protectorate of the US hegomic empire which also is technically bankrupt and failing just as UK is

Very recently The UK and as guided by our US masters are about to action reducing Visas to Chinese citizens along with imposing tariff,s on
Import of Chinese EV batteries and vehicles . China’s response guarded in very diplomatic language is for the UK to be very very careful in what they say but certainly so with regards
Actions as China shall retaliate in a manner that is most hurtful for the UK Politely reminding us that the UK
Economically, diplomatically and military unable to suffer the consequences of such retaliation
And a fine example of this being that the CEO of the former Peugeot group
is now seeking negotiations with the Chinese EV battery and Vehicle manufacturers to engage in joint ventures and when asked why this was so then his reply was that Both Europe and USA have been asleep at the wheel and now in a hopeless situation therefore ” If you can’t beat them You better join them ” this simply constitutes confronting reality
Like it or not engage with China in a positive manner as not doing so is now unthinkable
Apply all this what the results shall undoubtedly be for UK motor industry
Note BYD of China now manufacturing in a 3 week period more vehicles than The UK achieved for one whole year
Wake up or your demise is guaranteed

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Are you mad?

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

My profound thanks to you because history clearly demonstrates that the sane tell those of what shall evolve
Then we truth sayer immediately have the label of madness stuck upon our foreheads
But when events unfold as you pre warned them and beyond all doubt tis you that is truly mad and I that was and always shall be the one of sound mind
A old profound ancient profound Chinese wisdom for you
For the stupid there is education
For the delusional there is hope and reality
But for the Mad their is no cure

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

Yes, he is.
More likely Chinki or Russian stooge pretending to be Orish.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Not likely but I certain that indeed you are delusional and by association possibly actually limited in cranial matters and hard of thought

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Well, clearly English is not your first language. If it is, then the second conclusion is that your education is profoundly lacking. And, actually, the second conclusion applies whatever your nationality.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

I care not as to how I deploy that weasel language referred to as English used and written by Weasels
Irish Gaelic invented the Word Tory
Care to enlighten all by way of defining what the word Tory actually means
Let’s see what kind of education you received whether one that freed or trapped and closed your mind
And if the latter then a closed mind is akin to a parachute
Both utterly useless till they open
This article was excellent and carefully in a unbiased manner spelt out the Truth but awfully so for the Deluded English and not one has responded with cold hard facts far less logically to any posts I have made
Here how delusional you English all are
In the 19 th Century prior to mounting a campaign from India you dispatched a top diplomat to meet with the most Senior tribal leader of the Afghans all in order to suss them out.Result upon final meet with the Afghans at a banquet the meeting concluded with these words from the Afghans leader ‘ Go back and tell your Queen this to consider the glass that I hold in my hand ( which was nothing special) represents myself , then proceeded to throw the glass and smash it against the wall
Stating this it matters not as I nothing but can be so easily replaced in the form of another Afghan tribal leader
Then asked the British diplomat to hand him the very fine ornate unique crystal
Class he had been drinking from and as the Afghan was handed this most finest of glasses informed the diplomat
Now consider this glass as your Queen and her Army then again smashed the glass against the wall stating and how do think you can replace that glass
The meeting was then concluded . The diplomat returned and reported accordingly
Result you went ahead and invaded ending in a ignemonious defeat and retreat but you elected to repeat once
More resulting in a even more devasting defeat but what did achieve well then it achieved absolutely Zero because once more you partake in more military crusades by way of NATO again yielding nothing for you other than having to undertake a hasty and ignemonious retreat and what for
Loss of thousand,s of life’s , spend of $ Trillions by US and UK ( monies both had to borrow and to this day paying interest on )
But more importantly and considering the initial objective was to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban but final result you effectively replaced that generation of Taliban with a far more savvy new
Generation of Taliban which in return has resulted in the West now firmly shut out forever Whilst China is most thoughtful in by way of greatly assisting the New Taliban in matters of in set up of New State institutions
All in order that good governance is established for the benefit of all the Afghans
But this sad tale ( for you does not end there ) China now has exclusive access to the vast untapped mineral resources of Afghanistan and amongst those resources it’s highly likely that a new Rare earth mineral
Exits in huge deposits the name of this mineral temporarily escapes me
However here are it’s properties in comparison to Lithium which is a essential mineral in the industries of the green industrial revolution
Easier to mine
Much less costly to process
At least 12 times more effective
Batteries last 20 times longer
Batteries recharge to full from empty
To full in 6 minutes
China has already discovered a large deposit of this rare earth mineral in Mongolia by way of the BRICS initiative and the geology of this deposit bears remarkable similarity to the geology of neighbouring Afghanistan
What does this tell me
That indeed you may think you are educated
But your actions prove without doubt not only are you extermally stupid
But actually truly mad as by way of Einstein,s description of true madness
In that to continually repeat actions that fail is true madness
And upon such I now rest my case

Josie Bowen
Josie Bowen
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

You need to check if your AI is working.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Josie Bowen

Tis you that urgently needs to verify that your brain is working properly
Prior the wagging of your inept tonguep
What is it about you all, that not one can respond with irrefutable verifiable facts from reputable sources that dispels any of which I speak
I know why but it appears you are trapped in the views and opinions of those who’s control you and most certainly locked into
The original article was a well researched informative piece that in a Most gentle manner simply informed you of the awful reality Little England now finds itself in and such decline grows at a expodentially increasing pace

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

“Guaranteed” ? Says who, you? From your vantage point, you have little idea of the underlying character of the vast majority of the peoples of this island; and that’s despite waves of immigration. Look at our comparative histories (which have included immigration before now), and repeat to yourself a thousand times a day “I must take this chip off my shoulder and learn to live more freely”.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

By ” These islands one must assume that includes Ireland” and Scotland by default if so then your forked tongue indeed does wag in a extremely delusional and ignorant manner
Therefore I conclude you speak only on behalf of the truly mad English Brexiteers

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

They simply refuse for whatever reason that the UK is technically bankrupt in every sense

The English middle class is sitting on between 5 and 7 ÂŁtrillion of property wealth. That’s enough to pay off all the debts and fix the Health Service and all the potholes. It’s not resources we lack, it’s competent and courageous leadership.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

OMG truly delusional
Do you honestly believe that they would donate their overinflated valued properties to bail out a Corrupt UK government who have seriously misgovernment our affairs for years now
And unlike England Scotland has massive assets mostly untapped
In the form of vast renewable energy
Resources that at least can easily provide 30 % of all Europe’s energy needs .This effectively makes Scotland the New Saudi Arabia of the
Worlds rapidly evolving green energy
Requirements now most urgently required by Europe
Westminster knows all this is and now firmly trapped by way of
1. Global money markets and thanks to Liz Truss now fully alert as to the real state of the UK balance sheet that clearly demonstrates you bankrupt

2. Given above now means that UK ability to borrow in order to fund green energy resources and infrastructure is severely restricted
Why do you Think The Labour parties intent to borrow annually for five years ÂŁ 28.5 billion now cut back to ÂŁ 4.5 billion

3. Even if somehow you found the Magic Money Tree then almost totally unable to unlock Scotland’s
Resource and all due to the fact that you effectively stole 48 billion barrels of Scotland’s oil , this now has Scotland fully alert to what would happen should England go full throttle to release these vast untapped resources which if such were to happen you would immediately induce Scotland to go
Independent in a unstoppable way

So you now in one helluva dilemma by way of having a puzzle within a enigma that for England is impossible to resolve
Enjoy rearranging the deck chairs and the melodies that the band are playing on board the Titanic

We in Scotland are already boarding the lifeboats of Independence
We know you sinking and we ain’t going down with you
Bye Bye

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

OMG! You are one of those deluded ScotsNats! Enough said!

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Sorry forgot to add that the overinflated value of the properties are insufficient to pay of The National
Debt far less fix the broken NHS as the balance sheet states that
The current liabilities are in excess of State Asessts to the tune of almost
ÂŁ 9 Trillion

Graeme Crosby
Graeme Crosby
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Re: China.

When you sup with the devil be sure to use a long spoon.

China wishes you ill and to not to be alive to that fact makes it you not facing reality.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Crosby

I only sup with Fifers and only so when I have a very long spoon at my disposal

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Crosby

One must assume that indeed that you one the many delusional English

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Crosby

Unfortunately for you rather foolishly
China was brought up by way of utter
Ignorance
So let’s keep such references to China going
In Singapore a former English colony
Impoverished Chinese emigrants were brought to Singapore and put to
Back breaking work mainly in construction, railways and port works
Their Imperial masters often referred
To these people’s as ‘Coolies ‘
Well let us focus in now on matters pertaining to Railway construction today which approximately in the same time frame as England’s HS 2
Efforts pathetically so that the line despite being cut back significantly and way out of program and budget out of control if and when complete
It will manage to cut journey time by a staggering 12 mins by way of 1 St generation technology

Meanwhile in the same time frame and from start to finish China and all within budget and program now successfully operate 6800 Km of HS
Rail the latest of which as constructed by The China Railway Co. By way of the BRICS mechanism
Was fully commissioned and operational in early November 23
Serving Djkarta and Bandung a distance almost equal to London to
Birmingham cutting journey time of the 298 Km / HR express by 4 hrs 28 mins
And half way through the project the works were redesigned to accept the recently commissioned the
5th generation Locos and carriages which have no requirements to slow down for Tunnel’s, Stations or incoming opposite travel HS trains
The project was so successful by end of November that a further 12 locos and carriages were added to the original 14 No
Inward investment of signed and Intent now in the Billions and very little land or space to accept more
Now back to that word ” Coolies ”
And not offered in a derogatory manner
But I’m conveying to impress upon little England that me thinks that indeed in terms of Rail construction that Tis you that are now ” The Coolies ” and as always those who laugh first usually end up being the last who can laugh

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Update Yesterday the CEO of the Renault group is Pleading for a Marshall plan to be formulated in order to save European automotive Industry as China’s BYD now has two specialist vehicle ship transporters able to ship 14,000 vehicles and planning more along with construction now well underway in Hungary with joint ventures of EV battery and vehicle production
Like the Peugeot CEO the Renault CEO has woke up from the slumber and fully realises that they can’t possibly survive the oncoming onslaught and pleading for Europe not to impose tarrifs upon China as what is unfolding is inevitable and to do so would only hasten Europe’s demise in the global Automotive industry saying that BYD can now manufacture, deliver ,sell and still make profits withbtheir small entry EV car for the European market for € 9000
And not only that this car is packed full of the Latest High Tech features and add ons that Renault have not even thought was possible
For a moment just stop and think what for the Outside of Europe UK all this means for the future of UK motor
Manufacturing particularly so as how does UK government fund ” Marshall Plan ” You worked it out yet that this
means Curtains to another vital industry and the Bow of Titanic is almost below the waterline now

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Well, this sleepy drunkard would vote exactly the same way today. If we have not got what we voted for it was because the British political establishment hated the Referendum result and did its best to produce BRINO – one of that b***h May’s objectives. And the clown Johnson never knew what he was doing. The people were failed (and continue to be) by the worst set of politicians in our history.

rob drummond
rob drummond
4 months ago

I do wish people would stop banging on about how rich Ireland is. Their 500bn economy is bloated entirely by corporate tax fiddles.
Their real economy is around 200bn
in fairness to the Irish Government, they have also said that gdp should not be measured as Southern Irelands wealth sinbce little of it is created BY Ireland.

Another (unrelated thing) The ONLY time Ireland was ”United” was when they too were British (somehting always forgotten) – prior to that Ireland was a land of separate kingdoms. The ”King of Kings” was the Dublin Court.

Haotian 0
Haotian 0
4 months ago

“Varadkar had calculated — correctly — that for the first time in Irish history, Britain was in a weaker position than Ireland.” Objectively considered, Britain was in the stronger position, as Ireland/EU could not would not enforce its land border with it, which therefore left it dependent on Britain’s co-operation if they wanted an effective border. In a related fashion, Greece’s inability to enforce its migration borders caused the EU to make deals with Turkey to prevent crossings.

What Varadkar correctly assessed was that the British political class were ashamed of their failure to project-manage the electorate to deliver goals in service of the relevant International Community, and would therefore make cringing acts of obeisance in the hopes of making up for it and showing that they still truly belonged in that Community.

That’s visible at the tiny scale (Britain’s chief negotiator Ollie Robbins requesting Belgian citizenship in recognition of services rendered) and at the national scale (the political class coming to believe that ‘we failed so the least we can do is eliminate any undesired consequences for others’).

It comes down to a political class fetishising ‘a place at the table’ and making increasingly desperate attempts to prove itself worthy of such a place despite — or because — the chances of having that place were being ripped away.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
4 months ago

The article is very misleading. It argues that Ireland was in a stronger position for the first time in history because it was backed by the EU. Ireland won; the UK lost. A more accurate assessment would be that Whitehall was aligned with Brussels and Dublin against the Brexiteers. The Brexiteers were those who voted for Leave because the EU had not delivered; in fact, things had got much worse over 40 years. The British fishing industry, effecting 186 constituencies, was wound down to a 0.1% of the total gap, compared to 4% in Norway. With a 40% undervaluation of the DM/Euro, British manufacturing was gutted. The UK gave 250 billion net over 40 years to the EEC/EU. So Whitehall was determined to further screw the great unwashed British public, for daring to sound the alarm. (Remember the outraged column in the FT, all those enlightened readers who suddenly revealed their true selves).
No, Varadkar won nothing. He paraded as if he had. What he rode high on was the money that gushed into Ireland to reverse the vote against the Eu Constitution; the vote for killing babies; and now he hoped the vote against marriage. But the Irish unwashed had woken up. Too late Leo. Its not too late for the Brexiteers either. They are halfway there to be a sovereign state. They have to sweep away the tadpoles infesting Whitehall and Westminster. That’s the next task.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

Yes, after all it is our hopeless governing class that allows Google to collect ÂŁ8bn every year from British advertisers and bank it in Dublin without paying any tax on it here. Why wouldn’t an Irish PM exploit their fecklessness?

William Goodwin
William Goodwin
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

Yes, the next task. First the self-inflicted and equally well-deserved annihilation of the tory party, followed by the sinking of the Labour party who will be lucky to survive even one term. Then the assertion of popular sovereignty through whatever forces emerge from the ashes of the next election. Pure fantasy? No more than the victory ensured at Brexit by the freely expressed will of the British people. Who’d a thunk it?

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago

Maybe but let us be careful what we wish for…

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

Oh come off it! This is firstly a complete caricature of Britain’s performance in the EEC and then the EU (by the way which was supported by a vast much greater proportion of the population than the later vote to leave).

Secondly we have a prime example of self-delusion which doesn’t even recognise political opponents could have any skill or achievements by definition! You play with the hands you’re given, and there’s absolutely no doubt that Ireland played their hand vastly better than the UK play hours. Perhaps that kind of arrogance was exactly why the UK performs so badly and by the way this was Brexiteers like David Davis, not just a panoply of caricature treacherous Remainers.

I support Brexit but I don’t delude myself about the appalling mess of this country’s made of it. Perhaps that was inevitable the country only voted by a narrow margin for Brexit in the first place, and David Cameron forbade any preparation for a Leave vote. Ironically the vote to leave was delivered mainly on the basis of immigration, which of course has hugely increased since the UK left! But many key Brexiteers are rarely taken to task for their inconsistencies on the framework for leaving the EU. For example, Nigel Farage used to support the Norway option and only later decided that almost every other option apart from a minimal World Trade Organisation agreement was treachery

Leaving a 40-year-old political and currency Union was never going to be the easy walk in the park that many Brexiteers claimed. And then we have “the EU was nasty to the UK”. Well the EU certainly played hardball in the negotiations, but how on Earth do people who’ve spent their decades excoriating that organisation (with some justification) ever imagine that it was going to give a marvelous easy deal to the UK when it wanted to leave their club?

Ana Cronin
Ana Cronin
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

(by the way which was supported by a vast much greater proportion of the population than the later vote to leave) – 1972 and the Brexit votes are not comparable votes. 1972 was a vote to enter the EEC and was then proposed was a much different animals to what the EU became. Ireland joined the EEC at the same time as the UK and I know what my parents and their generation voted to enter an economic arrangement and never imagined its tentacles would spread. Remember they were the children of the generation of 1916 – 1922 the first generation in a ‘free’ Ireland.
The FF position on Brexit is the one we should have followed and I am no fan of FF but never underestimate how hated the British particularly the English are in Ireland & that includes by the sophisticates in D4/D6 & south county Dublin I know first hand as my husband and children are British.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

Thanks for an insightful article, on Ireland itself and on Varadkar’s impact on Brexit. I have lived in Dublin moat of my 62 years and I readily identify with the points made. Ireland’s population has increased dramatically in the course of a generation, most of it driven by net inward migration. Some 20% of the population of 5.3 million comprises foreign-born migrants and they have been absorbed with astonishing success overall. At the same time living standards have greatly increased. Only a comparatively wealth country could achieve both.

The article is superb on Varadkar’s achievement (from an Irish perspective) on Brexit. But as it rightly points out, with the bespoke arrangement for Northern Ireland settling down amidst widespread acceptance by NI Unionists, the whole island is set to benefit. That will in time be viewed as Varadkar’s greatest legacy, and a formidable one at that.

The hostility to Varadkar in many comments here is noteworthy. But being a gay man of mixed race heritage and taking up the office of Taoiseach at the age of 38 was an astonishing testimony to his own personal abilities but also to an Independent Ireland that had finally come of age in its comfortable pluralism. And in its awareness of its crucial links, no longer only to Britain but now also to America and to the EU. History will be good to Varadkar.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Let’s be clear here:
Are you the same person who claimed, while posting on another article, that English were terribly racists?
While claiming to live in uk?
I replied to your claims.
But now you are saying your home is Dublin?
Happy to apologise if I confused you with another person.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

You have confused me with another person.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Thus speaks someone from the Dublin bubble. We have the same narrow-minded set of people in the UK, the well-off in the London bubble. The rest of the country does not share the same values as the bubblers.

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

This is impressive rose tinting and fairy dust sprinkling.

William Cameron
William Cameron
4 months ago

Never trust anyone you wouldnt want your daughter to marry.

William Cameron
William Cameron
4 months ago

If you didnt like Mr Varadkar you will dislike Mr Coveney even more.
The good news however is that these folk who overestimate their own brilliance will probably unite Ireland- thus saving UK tax payers a fortune – and wiping out Eire’s economy.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago

I would even drink shite Irish beer and eat their crap food to celebrate this great outcome.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
4 months ago

Let’s hope so for all our sakes.

Anthony Taylor
Anthony Taylor
4 months ago

When I think about Varadkar, Ireland and the UK, I feel profound dismay at the lack of vision of most politicians of all stripes, but particularly Margaret Thatcher. The biggest mistake for the UK was its failure to join the Euro when it had the chance. It was routinely pilloried within the EU and elsewhere for not doing so. I know it would have diminished London as a financial capital, but it would have given the rest of the UK – you know, those pesky people outside the M25 – a chance at competing with Europe on an equal financial footing and it would have forever cemented Britain’s commitment to the EU. As it was, Britain became a cranky irritant; forever an outside player and was only ever committed to the EU as far as it would benefit the narrowest of national interests, which of course were not national at all; it was just for the London financial district and its environs.
Varadkar was presented with a disunited UK, riven by internal and regional dissent. He played his hand competently. The UK blew it badly with Brexit and it still reaping what it has sown. Furthermore, when Brexit negotiations were ongoing, I was so disappointed at the poor quality of the UK’s negotiating team, whenever they came on TV. They came across to me, to put it simply, as inept, arrogant and unintelligent. They really seemed to believe that they were in charge. Fatal hubris, as ever for the UK.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
4 months ago
Reply to  Anthony Taylor

The biggest mistake for the UK was its failure to join the Euro

ï»żNow I’ve heard it all.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Anthony Taylor

My reply to you disappeared with “captcha error etc”.
Let’s try again.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Anthony Taylor

I went skiing to Slovakia in January.
First time in 30 years.
I was amazed how poor and backward Slovakia is (terrible food, worst I ever experienced apart from Communist Russia) in comparison to Czech Republic.
Prices were incredibly high. Daily ski ticket was more that Tignes or Isghl I’m a resort with 10% of ski area.
Slovakia adopted Euro but Czechs did not.
The same goes for Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal.
Now Germany gaulaiter in Poland, Tusk, is trying to kill Polish economy by adopting Euro.
You have (pretended?) English name.
Only idiot or traitor would wish for England to return to Fourth Reich (OK, EU for your lot).
Take your pick.

Ana Cronin
Ana Cronin
4 months ago
Reply to  Anthony Taylor

One of the worst things Ireland ever did was join the Euro. A currency held by many countries who are hugely economically divergent but it set around Germany needs. Also it ties us to the EU in such a way that unlike the UK we would be destroyed if we left. See how they leaned on Greece. Also to paraphrase Thatcher a country that cannot control it’s own currency has no sovereignty

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
4 months ago

What’s with the comments, large numbers of responses seem to have just disappeared?

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Yes, and upvotes on highly voted posts cause the number to go from 90 to 8 (as an example, but I had seen it on dozens of posts I upvoted).

Micheal MacGabhann
Micheal MacGabhann
4 months ago

Varadkar misread the nature of the relationship between Ireland and the U.K.
He used Brexit to make a name for himself, and unnecessarily alienated the British. He chose to ignore the reality that, history aside, there is actually a warm everyday working relationship between British and Irish people. Varadkar was trying to be too Irish without appreciating the nuances of the relationship between the peoples.
The referendum was another popularity platform to improve personal fame. Luckily the peasants revolted.

James Kirk
James Kirk
4 months ago

My Dad, born 1912, wasn’t over verbose and normally summarised his views in a sentence or two. ‘Ireland? Cut it loose, let it sail away into the Atlantic.’ ‘Where to?’ I’d say. His reply, ‘Who cares?’ After my spell in the Forces I’ve never found cause to disagree with him.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago
Reply to  James Kirk

Interesting. The only thing the British army taught me about Ireland was I was on the wrong team

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
4 months ago

The EU and Varadkar failed to grasp that a trade is, by definition, beneficial to both parties, otherwise one or the other would decline the offer. So, whether it’s a British company selling insurance services to an EU customer, or an EU farmer selling tomatoes to a British supermarket, both parties benefit.
The EU’s decision to use trade as a weapon has therefore harmed member state economies just as much as it has harmed the UK. Have the major European economies done noticeably better than ours since Brexit? Clearly not. In fact, UK trade with the EU is pretty much where it was in 2016, while our trade with the rest of the world has increased.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago

The EU understands the value of trade in that sense perfectly well. However its priorities are political, not economic, and it has no problem at all sacrificing economic interests for political gain.

Ana Cronin
Ana Cronin
4 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I would agree with that. Even now with the Ukraine situation politics are king even while the ship of Europe, Germany is sinking.

Andrew F
Andrew F
4 months ago

My blod boils, when I read another article about ineptitude of British government in negotiations with EU.
Obviously having Remoaners uncivil servants and Theresa May agreeing to EU demands makes them traitors imo.
For a start, if EU and Ireland insisted on alignment etc, UK should had replied that leaving EU means border, so you set it up, as it happens between UK and France.
Then before agreeing to anything, Britain should had used 6 millions of EU citizens making living in UK as bargaining chips.
Usual woke idiots would complain that it is inhumane blah, blah.
Well, EU waged Economic War on Britain and we should reply in kind instead of rolling over like brain dead Labrador puppy.
Thirdly, uk should propose withdrawal from NATO.
So no commitment to defend the EU members from Russian aggression.
Anyone complaining about it should remember French withdrawal from NATO under De Gaulle.
First duty of any country is to protect its citizens against foreign aggression, either military or economic.
Theresa May fails on both counts.
We should remember her decision to commit to Net Zero target.
Making citizens of your country poor by following moronic green policies, which enemies of UK ignore makes you either moron or a traitor.
Take your pick.

Ana Cronin
Ana Cronin
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

From this Irish person “well said”

charlie martell
charlie martell
4 months ago

He has set in motion the destruction of his country.

Varadkar is a slippery chancer and will be remembered only for making an enemy out of a friendly neighbour.

Jake Raven
Jake Raven
4 months ago

May was this country’s worst PM ever, her treachery knew no bounds. Her net zero 2050 legislation has cost this country both economically and socially. The woman is a disgrace. Caving in to the Irish was inexplicable for Brexiteers and proves she was never serious about leaving the EU. I loath the woman.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago
Reply to  Jake Raven

I quite agree. She is responsible for the worst failure of statecraft in living memory and I find it inexplicable that she stayed in politics after 2019. She should have left in disgrace. She is a disgrace, not just to the Tory Party, but to democracy itself.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

She is making a lot of money in public speaking apparently, astonishing really.

Richard Foster
Richard Foster
4 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

…..

Rob N
Rob N
4 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Always wonder how politicians get ÂŁ000,000 for giving a speech. Surely it couldn’t be like buying a Biden painting, a way for rewards for services rendered to be laundered!

Neiltoo .
Neiltoo .
4 months ago

He didn’t just damage the UK, he damaged Ireland, irreparably in my view. He seemed to think that antagonising and belittling unionists, unionists who will one day be Irish citizens in his grand scheme, would make for a better country.
There are 2 united Irelands, there is the one being campaigned for, being whored for, being eulogised and then there’s the one we are all going to have to live in should it ever happen.
How do these idiots think that will work out for them? The vast majority of people in the Rep. of Ireland have never visited N. Ireland, know nothing about it and see it as ‘different’
Do they imagine that putting these peoples together, having demonised and humiliated many of them, even looked the other way while some were murdered, cleansed if you will, do they imagine that they will all play together like good little children?
The naivety is staggering.

Neil Mcalester
Neil Mcalester
4 months ago

He didn’t just damage the UK, he damaged Ireland, irreparably in my view. He seemed to think that antagonising and belittling unionists, unionists who will one day be Irish citizens in his grand scheme, would make for a better country.
There are 2 united Irelands, there is the one being campaigned for, being whored for, being eulogised and then there’s the one we are all going to have to live in should it ever happen.
How do these idiots think that will work out for them? The vast majority of people in the Rep. of Ireland have never visited N. Ireland, know nothing about it and see it as ‘different’
Do they imagine that putting these peoples together, having demonised and humiliated many of them, even looked the other way while some were murdered, cleansed if you will, do they imagine that they will all play together like good little children?
The naivety is staggering.

Jonathan C
Jonathan C
4 months ago

To the Irish, what goes around, comes around.

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
4 months ago

Time for that common travel area to go.

Ana Cronin
Ana Cronin
4 months ago
Reply to  Rachel Taylor

Can I just say as someone who spent decades in the UK I am grateful for the travel area and the career opportunities I enjoyed in the UK I went there by choice to live for a few year but stayed and married and brought up my family there. I loved my time there, have great friends there and found the British particularly English people warm when you get to know them, loyal and very tolerant, maybe too much so for your own good. However yes perhaps you may want to remove the vote from Irish citizens in the UK and not allow their vote to sway elections.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
4 months ago
Rob N
Rob N
4 months ago

Odd article. Apparently Ireland used to be so poor that nobody wanted to immigrate to it – “Would you rather be so poor people have to leave, or so rich people want to come?”

Clearly Varadkhar Sr did not agree when he left India to come to poor Ireland.

Ireland was always wealthy enough to be attractive to 70% of the world. Just their Governments were not stupid/traitorous enough to encourage them all to come!

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
4 months ago

“And so we say goodbye to this strangely awkward and aloof Taoiseach who became a liberal pin-up outside Ireland — even though his final lesson was in the ruthless pursuit of naked national interest.”

Good riddance to the b******!

And he never did anything in the “national” interest. Ever!

Ana Cronin
Ana Cronin
4 months ago

Ireland is not an wealthy country. One cannot assess Ireland wealth by GDP but by GNI, however its’ payment to the EU are based on GDP. It is one of the most indebted countries in Europe, staying afloat from debt and the revenues from the international companies who create that ‘inflated’ GDP. 10 companies who pays closer to 2.5% tax rather than the 12.5 often quoted and those revenue cannot be relied upon into the future. The Gini coefficient has Ireland mid table in the world but even that is an illusion, holding that spot because of the generous social welfare payments paid by high rate of income tax and redistributed from even mid earning workers to an ever growing low or no income earned portion of the population including illegal immigrants, refugees and Ukrainians. The former coming because a minister told them everyone would have a front door (house) despite the fact Ireland already had over 10,000 of its own citizens homeless the later coming because of huge financial incentives who are leaving other EU countries and still arriving. Each taxpayer still paying USC to cover bank bailouts, electricity costs highest in the world, all fuel cost increasing due to EU climate policies, food inflation and they want farmers to cull cattle while constantly imposing regulations which comes with direct costs (UK was a main market, so at what price for that sector Leos Brexit victory?). Banks slow to lend yet raking in profits. The health service already in disarray is now worse and because private hospitals are taking the overflow (paid by govt.) even private patients pay for a service they cannot access with any speed. I could go on but it is depressing.

Ana Cronin
Ana Cronin
4 months ago

Oh and by the way the Irish are still emigrating 64000 in the year to Apr 2023

Ana Cronin
Ana Cronin
4 months ago

Sinn Fein have lost support for their stance on the referendums and then their attempt to wiggle out of that position after the result. See the huge no votes in working class areas. The new leader of FG will be a politician who won his seat on the 17th count! and was previously subject to a no confidence vote driven by the party he will now govern in coalition with. You couldn’t make it up!

Kevin Finegan
Kevin Finegan
3 months ago

1) Ireland is not wealthy. It has had high incomes and high GDP since roughly 2000, but it takes decades of that to make a country wealthy. Instead Ireland went bust. It’s only just beginning to recover from that. Metrics based on purchasing power make that clear, as do the quantities of things like railways and sports facilities.
2) Varadkar and Coveney didn’t win Brexit. They trashed Anglo-Irish relations to win a false victory over a non-existant problem and ignored the actual trade problems created for Ireland by Brexit. The Backstop was watered down in the Protocol which was further watered down in Windsor. The reason? They were completely unneccesary. There was never going to be a flood of goods going into the EU via Ireland from the UK. Meanwhile goods entering Ireland via the UK cost more because no deal was done on allowing goods to cross the UK from the continent without inspection. https://www.irishtimes.com/special-reports/brexit-next-steps/brexit-irish-consumers-will-have-to-pay-extra-for-some-goods-or-go-without-1.4488696