Irish Prime Minister Resigns Suddenly

"I have nothing in mind."
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 27: Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar talks with media at press corner of EU Leaders Summit on October 27, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium. After days spent deliberating on the language in their statement in support of both Israel's right to defend as well as raising concern for Palestinian civilians in Gaza, the EU leaders are set to push for humanitarian aid corridors into besieged Gaza. On October 7, Hamas launched a deadly attack in southern Israel that sparked a retaliatory siege of Gaza. (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s taoiseach or prime minister, announced Wednesday that he will step down in a shocking move.

During a press briefing outside Parliament in Dublin, Varadkar said he was resigning for “personal and political” reasons. He called his years leading the country the “most fulfilling time” of his life.

“I know this will come as a surprise to many people and a disappointment to some, but I hope you will understand my decision,” Varadkar said during the briefing.

Varadkar, who became Ireland’s youngest and first openly gay taoiseach in 2017, said he would also step down as leader of the Fine Gael party. He said his resignation as party leader is effective immediately, but he would continue to serve as prime minister until the party elects a new leader. That will likely happen before the Irish parliament’s Easter break, and the new leader is expected to take office afterward on April 16.

“There is never a right time to resign high office,” he said. “However, this is as good a time as any.”

Varadkar’s announcement comes just days after he met with President Joe Biden at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day.

His decision also comes after Irish voters rejected two proposed changes to the country’s constitution earlier this month. One change would have expanded the definition of family beyond marriage. The other change would have removed language saying the state should work to make sure mothers are not forced by economic necessity to work outside of the home, language that was criticized as “sexist.”

As a member of the Irish Parliament, Varadkar saw two referendums pass that changed the Irish constitution to allow both same-sex marriage and abortion.


Varadkar’s resignation will not trigger an early election. Ireland is scheduled for a general election early next year.

An emotional Varadkar on Wednesday emphasized that there was no “real reason” behind his move.

“I know, inevitably, there will be speculation as to the ‘real reason’ for my decision,” he said during the press briefing. “These are the real reasons. That’s it. I have nothing else lined up or in mind. No definite personal or political plans, but I am looking forward to having the time to think about them.”

“I have nothing in mind,” he said. “I have no definite personal or political plans.”

“Politicians are human beings, and we have our limitations,” he said.

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