Home Europe Leo Varadkar, The Irish Doctor Prime Minister Who Quit

Leo Varadkar, The Irish Doctor Prime Minister Who Quit

Not many had expected this announcement from Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar. My reasons for resigning are both personal and political, he said without any further clarification. It comes less than a week after he met President Joe Biden and spoke on the immediate need for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages held by Hamas. He also expressed solidarity for Ukraine.

When he first took charge in 2017, he created records of sorts. At 38, he became the youngest prime minister of Ireland. He’s the country’s first gay leader and the first person from a biracial background to hold the post. His father was a doctor from India and his mother an Irish nurse. He served on the high post twice, the first lasted three years, the second a little more than that. He will continue till his successor is elected.

Even before he became PM, Varadkar was active when it came to social issues, such as campaigning for legalizing gay sex marriage and for repealing a ban on abortion. He also led Ireland during the tumultuous Brexit days and the pandemic. The highlights of his prime ministerial career are many, as he says

Many Irish would agree with that, which explains the surprise over him quitting. So what could have been the trigger?

Earlier this month, voters trashed the government’s position in referendums on two constitutional amendments. The changes would have broadened the definition of family and removed language about a woman’s role in the home. Varadkar admitted he got it wrong.

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His parents settled down in Ireland nearly 50 years ago. He went on to study medicine, just like his father, became a general practitioner and even served in the NHS. In 2007, he was elected to parliament for the first time, and later after his party took power in a coalition government he held several ministerial roles, including that of health minister.

He’s known to speak his mind, be it openly admitting that he’s gay, campaigning for issues considered taboo in a traditionally conservative society, and also admitting when things go wrong.

He’s only 45 now and could have carried on, but there’s never a right time to resign high office, as he says.

(With Inputs From Associated Press)