You’ve got to hand it to the Irish PM, he just out-Boris-ed Boris right to his face

Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar
Tracy Keeling

You’ve got to hand it to Ireland’s PM Leo Varadkar – he played a blinder on 9 September. In a press conference with Boris Johnson, he proved he’s got the UK PM’s number: by out-Boris-ing the man himself.


In the press conference in Dublin, Johnson reaffirmed his desire to leave the EU on 31 October. But he admitted that leaving without a deal would be a “failure” and insisted he wants to make a deal with the bloc. Varadkar also said he thinks a deal is “possible”, though he had a few choice words for Johnson:


Johnson himself is well known for making classical references – sometimes quite nonsensically. So the Irish PM’s comments show he has Johnson’s number, as a source close to Varadkar said:

It’s well known that Boris is into his classics and literature, and the Taoiseach meant the Herculean reference as a compliment, the entire meeting was supposed to be complimentary.

See reason

But as much as this source says the reference was meant to be “complimentary”, it’s hard to see it that way. Firstly, because Varadkar out-classicised the classicist. That’s got to burn. Furthermore, the Irish PM’s chosen reference was way too close for comfort. As many have pointed out, in Greek mythology, Athena is the goddess who stopped Hercules, mid-rampage, from doing any further damage to his own family. Then, after the frenzy, Hercules found himself dependent on her to make amends for his crimes.

Given Johnson is a PM who stands accused of trying to bulldoze his country into a catastrophic no-deal Brexit – which could potentially break up the UK – it’s a fitting comparison. Whether Johnson will see it as a ‘compliment’, however, is quite another matter.

Featured image via Guardian News/YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. Hi Tracy,

      Johnson has form for botching his classicial quotes and displaying his ignorance.

      Again it involves Hercules.

      When Cameron was negotiating with Brussels in the lead up to the Referendum Campaign and came back empty handed, the ever-eager-to-display-his-erudition Johnson compared Cameron to Hercules going into the underworld and failing to bring back Eurydice. (Tim Shipman “All Out War”, P 175 Kindle).

      It was not Hercules who brought Eurydice back from the underworld but Orpheus. There is the only one version of the myth where Hercules rescues her. It is in the 2008 Disney film, “Hercules.” Now we know where Boris gets his culture from.

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