Video: Leo Varadkar tells of family's immigration to Britain as he warns of Brexit dangers
TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has spoken of his family's "shared history" with Britain as he warned "so much will be lost" as a result of Brexit.
Addressing the European Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar described how his parents - an Indian doctor and an Irish nurse - met, fell in love and got married in Britain.
“Irish people are very close to British people in so many ways even though sometimes we don’t like to admit that," he said. "We have a shared culture and a shared history. That’s very much the experience of my family as well."
Here’s my family’s story which highlights why I think Brexit is a bad idea. pic.twitter.com/mFRc5SPbM2— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) January 18, 2018
“My parents met and fell in love and got married in England. My mum is an Irish nurse, my dad is a doctor from India, they both went to England to build their new lives.
“That’s where my sister was born and she still lives there, in London, with my niece and nephew who are English kids.”
"They point up at the Union Jack and they say 'Leo, that's our flag.'"
The taoiseach said he regretted the result of the Brexit vote as it would mean "young people will lose the right to live, work and study anywhere in the European Union."
Mr Varadkar said he would fight to maintain a close relationship between Britain and the EU but warned that Britain could not expect to enjoy the benefits of EU membership without "the responsibilities and obligations."
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who was in the chamber for the taoiseach's speech, criticised Mr Varadkar.
“Well, Mr Varakar [sic], you are very popular here,” he said.
"We should call you a European unionist, whatever the cost to Ireland may be."
Speaking of negotiations to secure a post-Brexit trade deal between the EU and Britain, Mr Farage accused the taoiseach of not acting in the interest of the Irish agricultural industry, claiming that 90 per cent of exports in some sectors go to Britain.
"It appears to me you are prepared to put your devotion to the European project above the interests of Irish farmers," he said.
Mr Farage then went on to accuse Mr Varadkar of being part of an anti-Brexit conpsiracy along with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Both Mr Farage and Mr Varadkar later attended a lunch hosted by Fine Gael MEP Mairéad McGuinness, during which Mr Farage joined in toasting the taoiseach ahead of his 39th birthday on Thursday.