New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. RollingNews.ie
By Anthony Neeson
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is to seek a meeting with new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr. Johnson was elected as the new leader of the Conservative Party after taking 60 percent of the party’s membership vote on Tuesday.
The former Foreign Secretary will replace Theresa May as prime minister on Wednesday (See Turner cartoon Page 13).
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The Irish government is concerned as Johnson has promised to leave the EU without a deal if he cannot win changes to the controversial backstop proposal.
In recent months, the Irish government have stepped up no-deal preparations.
While Johnson has promised to scrap the backstop, both the Irish government and the EU have said that the backstop – which is intended to keep the Irish border open – cannot be changed.
SDLP leader Colm Eastwood said Johnson’s election marked “a worrying step towards a hard no-deal Brexit and hard border in Ireland.”
He added: “Johnson has coasted into Downing Street on a wave of Brexit bluff and bluster. It won’t be long until he crashes into the rocky reality that the European Union will not sacrifice the interests of Ireland to appease a man who has lied and slandered its institutions in an effort to secure power.
“All the parties in the North must now set our combined efforts to resisting the impulse of this administration to drive off the Brexit cliff edge.”
DUP leader Arlene Foster welcomed Mr. Johnson’s victory. Her ten MPs prop-up the Conservative government at Westminster.
Foster said she looked “forward to discussing our shared objective of strengthening the union, delivering Brexit and restoring devolution” with the new prime minister.
Alliance leader Naomi Long, who was elected to the European Parliament in June, said Johnson had “failed to demonstrate any real understanding of the needs of Northern Ireland.”
“It’s time to cut the bluff, bluster and bombastic rhetoric, and start to provide the kind of reassurance business that civic society needs. Whilst I remain skeptical he will do that, I wish him well and will be more than happy to be proved wrong.”