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Neither rogue nor wily fixer, Varadkar confounds British.
UK cannot capture Taoiseach in limited parameters of Irish characters they can imagine.

You do not have to be overly perceptive to notice that the right-wing British press has a thing against Leo Varadkar. He's demonised as a lackey of the European Union, and the obstacle between Britain and the so-called green pastures of Brexit.

The disdain is unmistakable. Headline-dominating insults range from "naive" to "ill-informed" to "arrogant", and everything in between. Simon Heffer wrote in the Telegraph that Varadkar was "wrong to disregard the ancient ties between Britain and Ireland"; commentator Ruth Dudley Edwards called him a "useful idiot"; and a Sun editorial said his attempts to "wreck Brexit have been a suicidal failure of statesmanship".

Theresa May's former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, wrote in the Telegraph that Varadkar "doesn't understand the Good Friday [Belfast] Agreement" and commentator Tom Harris claimed in the same paper that he "is not up to the task when it comes to Brexit".

It would be easy to dismiss this invective as anti-Irish. It parrots the tropes of 19th-century Punch cartoons: ignorant, small minded, a man who doesn't know How Things Really Work.

But that would be missing the point. The hostility borne towards Varadkar comes from a different place entirely - an ignorance of Ireland's political culture, and a starkly different perspective on what the EU is and what it is for. This comes down to an asymmetry in information. In Ireland, the UK press is read widely; in the UK, most people would struggle to name a single Irish publication. Until very recently, the man on the Clapham omnibus wouldn't know what - let alone who - the Taoiseach was. But Brexit and Ireland's central role in the negotiations has plastered Varadkar over the front pages of broadsheets and tabloids alike.



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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Aug 17th, 2019 at 11:03:12 AM EST

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