June 12, 2017 / 10:26 AM / 2 years ago

Irish PM designate says chance for a softer Brexit after UK election result

Leo Varadkar applauds on stage to make his acceptance speech at the count centre as he wins the Fine Gael parliamentary elections to replace Prime Minister of Ireland (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny as leader of the party in Dublin, Ireland June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish PM designate Leo Varadkar said on Monday that Theresa May’s failure to win a majority in last week’s election might result in a softer Brexit, as it leaves her more dependent on lawmakers who would favour such a deal.

Varadkar said that members of Northern Ireland’s DUP, who May is looking to for support in government to achieve a working majority, and the Scottish wing of the Conservative party would favour free trade with Europe and a common travel area between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

“I do have a sense that the landscape does change somewhat as a result of the British election,” Varadkar, who is expected to be voted in as prime minister on Wednesday, told reporters.

“I do think there is an opportunity to soften Brexit. But that all remains to be seen.”

May had said that she planned a clean break from the European Union, involving withdrawal from Europe’s single market and customs union, before she unexpectedly lost her majority.

Irish Arts Minister Heather Humphreys said that DUP leader Foster had told her at an event on Sunday that she favours a different approach to Brexit.

“I was in Northern Ireland yesterday and Arlene Foster did say that she hopes that there will be a softer Brexit,” Humphreys said.

Reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin, writing by Alistair Smout; editing by Kate Holton

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