Related video: Liz Truss defends Northern Ireland protocol bill as 'patriot' and 'democrat'


At a time of uncertainty, where we’re waiting to find out whether former chancellor Rishi Sunak or foreign secretary Liz Truss will succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister, it’s always reassuring to see foreign leaders supportive of both leadership candidates.

Well, when that happens, that is - as Ireland’s deputy prime minister and former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has revealed he isn’t “hugely optimistic” that either option will see “an improvement in relations”.

Asked by a co-host on Ireland AM if it was true he wanted “anyone but Liz Truss”, Mr Varadkar replied: “I don’t actually know either of them … I haven’t met either of them yet anyway.

“To be frank, I’m not hugely optimistic that it’s going to result in an improvement in relations. We’ll do our best to reset [them], but what the Conservative Party is fundamentally doing is two things.

“They still seem to want a row with Brussels, and that makes an agreement on the [Northern Ireland] protocol very hard. A row with Brussels plays well with the base, plays well with the tabloid newspapers, unfortunately.

“Secondly, they’re not even-handed in dealing with Northern Ireland. They’re very much siding with one block of opinion – the unionists – over the other two blocks of opinion.”

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The Conservative Party’s full name is the Conservative and Unionist Party, after all.

He added: “Unless that changes, I don’t think the personality or the identity of the individual is going to matter all that much.”

Mr Varadkar also went on to claim the Irish government doesn’t know “if they want a deal” because a deal is a compromise with Brussels “which goes down really badly with the Conservative Party members”.

He noted Ms Truss backed former prime minister Theresa May’s negotiated deal, while Mr Sunak didn’t, before remarking that while her successor Boris Johnson managed to get his version of a deal through the Commons, “he decided he did not want to honour it”.

“So look, it’s a funny country at the moment, but we’ll do our best to work with them as best we can,” he concluded.

The comments come amid an ongoing dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol, a part of the UK’s Brexit deal which is designed to prevent a hard border existing on the island of Island.

However, a Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, brought forward by Ms Truss as foreign secretary, looks to scrap parts of this agreement altogether.

Mr Sunak, meanwhile, didn’t vote on the bill when it had its second reading in the House of Commons back in June.

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