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Irish PM designate says UK election means rejection of hard Brexit

Leo Varadkar applauds on stage in Dublin, Ireland June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The inconclusive outcome of Britain’s election amounts to a rejection of a ‘hard Brexit’ and provides an opportunity for Ireland, Irish Prime Minister-designate Leo Varadkar said on Friday.

Varadkar, the new leader of the governing Fine Gael who is set to succeed Enda Kenny as premier next week after a parliamentary vote, said he would play his part in ensuring Britian’s exit talks with the European Union are handled in a smooth and coherent manner.

“The results of the UK election indicate to me that there is no strong mandate to proceed with a hard Brexit, which represents an opportunity for Ireland,” Varadkar said in a statement after British Prime Minister Theresa May lost her majority in Thursday’s parliamentary election.

The Brexit negotiations are due to begin this month.

Reporting by Conor Humphries and Padraic Halpin; Editing by Gareth Jones