Leo Varadkar resigns as Irish PM amid crushing defeat

Indian-origin Leo Varadkar resigns as Ireland's PM amid crushing defeat

Varadkar, whose father was born in Mumbai, visited Irish President Michael D Higgins in Dublin to tender his resignation as Taoiseach – as the Prime Minister is known in Ireland. Credit: Reuters Photo

Ireland’s Indian-origin Prime Minister Leo Varadkar resigned from his post on Friday after a crushing defeat in a parliamentary vote, which failed to garner him enough supporters for a re-election.

Varadkar, whose father was born in Mumbai, visited Irish President Michael D Higgins in Dublin to tender his resignation as Taoiseach – as the Prime Minister is known in Ireland.

The 41-year-old will stay on as caretaker PM until a new administration is in place following a General Election earlier this month which failed to throw up a clear majority for any party.

Varadkar’s liberal-conservative Fine Gael party took a battering in the face of an unprecedented surge in the fortunes of the republican Sinn Fein.

The lower house of the Parliament in Dublin, or the Dail Eireann, reconvened on Thursday following the inconclusive election on February 8 and was suspended again for two weeks until March as parties continue efforts to form a new government.

While his party had re-nominated him, Varadkar got only 36 votes in the 160-seat chamber on Thursday making his resignation inevitable.

In comparison, Mary Lou McDonald, the President of Sinn Fein, got 45 votes, and Micheál Martin, the leader of Fianna Fáil, received 41.

McDonald has said she will continue negotiations to form a Left-wing coalition government, although her efforts are likely to fall short of the 80 MPs needed to form a majority because both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have refused to align with the party associated with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) of the past.

Meanwhile, Varadkar has said his caretaker government would not make new policy decisions or appointments unless absolutely necessary.

"The responsibility is now on all of us to provide good government and, indeed good Opposition, because that's what the people have every right to expect,” said Varadkar.

"The government will continue to carry out its duties until a new government has been appointed. I will likewise continue as Taoiseach until the election of that new government," he said.

A former general practitioner, Varadkar became the country’s youngest and first openly gay Prime Minister in 2017.

He has kept his Indian connect alive over the years, completing an internship at the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai.

He is expected to handle the Brexit brief and oversee negotiations around the UK’s future relationship with the European Union (EU) in any new Irish coalition Cabinet if his party Fine Gael joins in.

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