The political week in 5 points

Leo Varadkar signalled a new tone in the Irish government’s approach to Brexit. In contrast to the more cautious language of his predecessor, the new Taoiseach warned that Ireland would not design a “border for Brexiteers.” Later expanding on his remarks in Belfast, Mr Varadkar expressed scepticism that a ‘technological border’ would work in practice, suggesting that a bilateral customs deal between the UK and EU would be the most realistic way of preventing a ‘hard’ border on the island.

The new Taoiseach also signalled his willingness to intervene on social issues. Attending Belfast Pride at the weekend, Leo Varadkar said that equal marriage was “only a matter of time” in Northern Ireland. He appeared unconcerned that his presence might undermine relations with the DUP: “I will attend the Pride breakfast on Saturday morning in Belfast to express my support for equality before the law for Catholics, Protestants, non-religious people, men, women, gay people and straight people. And I won’t be making any compromises about that for anyone really.”

Venezuela is in the midst of a major political crisis. Tensions have been running high for months between President Maduro’s socialist government and opposition rebels. Elections to a Constituent Assembly were held last month, but critics of the regime and foreign observers have questioned their legitimacy. The US State Department accused Maduro of trying to “usurp the constitutional role of the democratically elected National Assembly, rewrite the constitution, and impose an authoritarian regime on the people of Venezuela.” Maduro, meanwhile, has accused America of interference. With Venezuelans heavily divided, there is no immediate end in sight to the country’s current crisis.

The UN Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea. After complaining that China wasn’t doing enough to curb Kim Jong-un’s erratic regime, the Trump Administration secured a diplomatic victory at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. In a rare unanimous vote, China and Russia joined with the United States in supporting a Security Council resolution in response to a series of recent missile tests. The resolution bans North Korea from exporting key materials such as coal, iron and lead.

As holidaymakers jet back from the sun, some passengers have been advised to arrive at the airport three hours before departure. There have been major delays at airports across the Schengen Area (22 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) as officials enforce new rules vetting travellers leaving the open border zone. Since the UK and Ireland lie outside the Schengen Area, easyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and Aer Lingus have been advising returning passengers to allow extra time for passport checks.

About Jamie Pow

Jamie is Deputy Editor of Northern Slant and a PhD student at the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen's University Belfast. His interests include elections, peace building, and making democracy work better. All views expressed are his own, not those of the University.


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