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The Dog-Whistle Rhetoric Of Brexit Britain Is Obsessed With Leo Varadkar

One of the more noxious effects associated with the rise of Brexitism in the United Kingdom has been the return of hard right beliefs and ideas to the mainstream of British politics. While such attitudes have always had their place in the political life of the country, the success of the Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum has led to a renewed elevation of xenophobic and racist sentiment among conservative politicians and journalists, either explicitly or implicitly so.

Into the latter category falls this Times of London opinion piece by the former newspaper editor Dominic Lawson, the son of Nigel Lawson, the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer or finance minister under Margaret Thatcher, who was outed as a mouthpiece for the British Secret Intelligence Service or MI6 in 2001, partly though his own hubristic boasting three years earlier.

According to the aristocratic columnist, the motivations for Ireland’s criticisms of the United Kingdom’s confused handling of its chaotic withdrawal from the European Union can be attributed to the personal failings of Leo Vardakar, Taoiseach na hÉireann.

Varadkar’s motives are not trade related but political and personal. He is widely seen as less Green (in the Irish republican sense) than his predecessors and must work harder with his domestic electorate to prove himself ready to stick it to the Brits.

Given that the Dublin West TD is the leader of Fine Gael, a conservative grouping which split from Irish republicanism in the 1920s, the claim that he is less “republican” than his predecessors is a nonsense. Even more so when one realises that Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny as the head of government in Dublin, the previous leader of his own party.

One suspects that what Lawson is actually referring to by Leo Varadkar being less “green” than those taoisigh who came before him, is a sly dig at his mixed parentage. It seems that in the eyes of some UK politicians and journalists, the colour of one’s skin calls into question one’s nationality or ethnicity. Therefore Lawson assumes that the Irish must embrace the same prejudices as their British neighbours.

And what of this?

…Varadkar sees his own future in terms of the EU’S political prize: he aspires to become Ireland’s first president of the European Council In Brussels. Playing the hitman for Michel Barnier, the EU’S chief Brexit negotiator fits perfectly with that ambition. So he endorses the EU’s insistence that there is no “technological solution” to the Irish border issue – and so the UK must accept the “backstop” of remaining in the customs union and, in effect, the single market.

Ah yes, because foreigners are always motivated by greed and avarice – especially the ones with tanned skin – lacking the common notions of decency and fair play which has characterised British history and actions for centuries. And all in the envious service of keeping mighty Britain down. The dog-whistle politics of Brexitism in one handy article!

11 comments on “The Dog-Whistle Rhetoric Of Brexit Britain Is Obsessed With Leo Varadkar

  1. Paddy Glynn

    “there is no “technological solution” to the Irish border issue” right on , there is none , the London School of Economics points this out clearly in an interesting article, The Irish border: no technology is smart enough,


    • The bits about all-Ireland animal/food movements is particularly important. It’s just not possible to regulate that now. Even 40 or 50 years ago, with partition at its height, livestock were being moved without regulatory notice or inspection by local farmers, with customs chasing them hither and tither. How would that work now when the whole trade is networked into the waft and weave of cross-border traffic?


  2. The attitude you are seeing can be viewed through the prism of Norman Tebbit’s cricket test. Dominic Lawson would view Leo Varadkar as suspect because of it, therefore he assumes Leo’s must be viewed as suspect by people that Lawson would view as ‘authenically Irish’ and thinks this can be used against him. The reality that there are about ten people in nationalist Ireland who give a crap about Leo’s ethnicity would never enter Lawson’s head.


    • Yep. And the assumption that Varadkar has to “prove” that he is Irish by being super anti-British. More Irish than the Irish themselves or some other psycho-babble overcompensation bullshit. Utter childish nonsense. And this from a former and very prominent newspaper and magazine editor in the UK?


      • bradhar

        I think there’s some truth in it. In reality a child of immigrant parents can’t be expected to take on board all the handed-down dogma of the new country. You don’t hear the London Irish pining for the lost empire. I was pleasantly shocked to hear Varadkar being more direct than Kenny. I was also surprised to see him being very pro-Gaeilge when he got the top job. Maybe he doesn’t have the servility gene and also maybe he needs to win over a certain demographic.


    • Paddy Glynn

      “Former Conservative minister Lord Tebbit has described his local pastor as a “Sodomite” after finding out he was gay.”


  3. Wee Jimmie

    “Therefore Lawson assumes that the Irish must embrace the same prejudices as their British neighbours.”
    Sometimes a justified assumption, unfortunately. I’ve several times heard Irish people explain solemnly that Britain is “a white country” to justify their racism.


    • Well there is that bizarre would-be UKIP leader, whatshername? I can’t even be bothered to look up the far-right Dublin-born troll. Nutcase. And then all the supposedly Irish members of Generation Identity UK and Ireland. Which takes us into the magical world of Dave Cullen and company.


  4. bjsalba

    I’d say the article is pretty typical of the current pro-Brexit press in the UK. They are not so much obsessed with Mr Varadkar and his ethnicity as they are with anything they can use to try and incite their followers to hatred of all people not pro-Brexit – especially any kind of Furriner.

    They are desparately trying to distract the British people from the absolute and total B*lls Up they are making of the negotiations.


    • 52% of the British (i.e. English) people are complicit in this “absolute and total B*lls Up” – and more fool them! The whole thing is a desperate harking back to the Empire, when times were good (unless you were poor, but we don’t remember that detail, even if we ourselves are poor now). [Insert a quick chorus of “Rule Brittania]. Ooops, – is it that time already – must dash to catch a passing tax haven, and f*** everyone else. After you Boris/Jacob/Teresa.


    • Wee Jimmie

      …or that the negotiations are going exactly to plan.


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