Ireland's New Leader At Odds With His British Counterpart

He's young, openly gay and conservative. And he has a few tough words for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.
Posted at 8:04 PM, Jun 14, 2017

Leo Varadkar, Ireland's new taoiseach (aka prime minister), took office Wednesday. He's unique for several reasons

He's young; at only 38 years old, he's the country's youngest leader in modern history. 

He's the son of an immigrant. Varadkar's father is Indian. 

And he's openly gay. Homosexuality was illegal just 24 years ago, when Varadkar was in his early teens.

Like French President Emmanuel Macron, he wants to steer his government to be more European — and that could put him on a collision course with embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May. 

Her Conservative Party lost seats after a snap election May called in hopes of strengthening her position as she enters Brexit negotiations. 

Right now, May's working on a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party to secure enough votes to keep her party in power.

That deal could jeopardize the Northern Ireland peace agreement between unionist and separatist parties. The U.K. and the Republic of Ireland aren't supposed to favor one of those sides over the other.

Varadkar warned May not to get "too close" to any Northern Irish party and said he would emphasize his concerns in his communications with May. 

It's also worth noting that post-Brexit, Ireland will have the European Union's only land border with the U.K. Varadkar and May will have to figure out how to manage that.