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'I wouldn’t dare do such a thing': After Enda's scolding, Leo isn't talking about the Budget this week

The Health Minister was remaining tight-lipped about the Budget this morning.

A tight-lipped Leo Varadkar in Dublin this morning
A tight-lipped Leo Varadkar in Dublin this morning
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

EXACTLY A WEEK ago Leo Varadkar went on Morning Ireland and suggested that a tax cut in the Budget could mean “an extra fiver or tenner in your payslip every week”.

His comments caused consternation in Government Buildings and earned the relatively new Health Minister a sharp rebuke from Taoiseach Enda Kenny who insisted that no decisions had been taken in relation to Budget 2015.

This was largely seen as Kenny administering a ‘slap down’ or ‘scolding’ to the renowned straight-talker Varadkar who had become the first minister to put an actual figure on the benefit any tax cut will have to hard-pressed workers.

This prompted Varadkar to insist that he didn’t mind being slapped down or scolded. He told reporters at the Fine Gael think-in in Cork last Thursday:

“I’m a big boy and I am willing to take a degree of criticism from time to time. But at the same time this isn’t about me, it’s not about my dignity, it’s not about my ego.”

Then Leo, who had been up singing (badly) until the small hours of Friday morning, was pictured having a cup of tea with his party leader and it was all grand.

12/9/2014. Day Two of the Fine Gael Think-In. Taoi Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

It seems the Health Minister has got the message now because when we asked about the Budget this morning he was remaining extremely tight-lipped.

Specifically, we put to him a story on the front of the Irish Independent today that the average family could benefit by around €300 a year from a tax cut in the Budget.

“Surely, you’re not asking me to speculate on the detail of the Budget?” Varadkar laughed. “I wouldn’t dare do such a thing.”

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Is the Minister not allowed talk about the Budget any more then? “Well, you heard the Taoiseach’s comments on that… ,” he responded.

Then he pivoted to a line that you can expect to hear all government ministers trot out over the next few weeks:

“We’re really only starting to get into detailed budget discussions at the moment. There’s still a lot of moving parts and no decisions are made at this stage.”

Whatever the Taoiseach said – if he said anything at all – it’s clearly had the desired effect.

Read: Public row? what public row?.. Enda’s trying to draw a line under the Varadkar spat

‘It’s just not true’: Leo insists the government didn’t cook the books

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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