Simon keeps busy but Leo seems lost in a fudge
IT HAS been a busy week for Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. Last Tuesday, he was in Belfast for cross-party talks with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland as efforts continue to find some progress ahead of a likely No Deal Brexit.
On Thursday he took to Twitter to strongly criticise the racist chants at a Donald Trump rally where the baying mob shouted ‘send her back’ in relation to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
On Friday it was on to Brussels where he had a meeting with Michel Barnier. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator described the meeting with Minister Coveney as positive, saying the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the UK is the only way to achieve an orderly Brexit as well as the best way for starting a common work on a new EU-UK partnership.
Over the weekend, Minister Coveney penned a hard-hitting opinion piece, published in the Sunday Times, where he reiterated that the Withdrawal Agreement is not up for renegotiation. The Minister was clearly setting out our stall ahead of the imminent election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, although it remains to be seen whether Boris will take heed of any of this.
And to round off the week, Minister Coveney put in a strong innings on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, spelling out to the UK audience where this government stands on Brexit.
‘This is a British choice. We all want to avoid a no-deal Brexit and we have worked for three years to try to do that. I have done very little else in politics apart from focus on the choice of the British people to leave the European Union, and its impact on Ireland and the EU,’ he said.
All in all, it was a productive few days for the Cork TD, in stark contrast to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who had yet another forgettable week lacking in leadership.
On Wednesday, An Taoiseach was accused of fudging his response to the Trump/racist chants story. He said the chants had all the hallmarks of racism, but stopped short of calling it out for what it was.
On Thursday, he was down in Wexford to officially open the Enniscorthy M11 bypass. So far, so good, only what should have been a day of positivity on a rare visit to the Model County turned into another PR mess as Leo’s handlers gave all local media the cold shoulder.
The Taoiseach’s people made it clear that he was not answering any questions relating to Wexford from any local media present. All politics is local except when Leo is in town, it seems.
It begs the question, would Simon Coveney have handled the local media in the same way? Or would he have seen the benefit of engaging with the local media, however briefly, in the knowledge that a little courtesy goes a long way, especially in rural communities.
Critics of Leo Varadkar’s leadership style have in the past labelled him an urban Taoiseach, and rumblings of unrest among rural party faithful have been evident for quite some time. If we were keeping score, the past week has definitely gone the way of Coveney.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.