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Taoiseach denies early election plan and accuses Fianna Fáil of dragging out agreement talks

The war of words between the two main parties continues, but Varadkar said he still wants a 2020 general election.

Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR said a new confidence and supply deal could be agreed between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, and accused Micheál Martin’s party of dragging out the agreement talks.

Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week programme, Varadkar denied that he was planning for an early election, despite the poll numbers remaining in his party’s favour and a major tax pledge made yesterday if Fine Gael had its way over the next five Budgets.

While Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the party was ready for an election at its Ard Fheis yesterday, Varadkar said today: “I am not planning for an early election.”

With talks under way on the potential renewal of the confidence and supply agreement that has seen Fianna Fáil allow Fine Gael to pass three Budgets since the last general election, the Taoiseach said he wanted to continue on with the next election coming in the summer of 2020.

Accusing Fianna Fáil of “dragging it out a bit”, he denied his party was manoeuvring with an election in mind after the rhetoric heard at the Ard Fheis. 

During his speech at the Fianna Fáil president’s dinner last night, leader Micheál Martin attacked Fine Gael’s record in government and told them not to give his party “any lectures about responsible politics or the need for stability”.

On the topic of Brexit, Varadkar said that it will be difficult for Theresa May to get her deal through parliament, as “politics in Britain is very divided”.

He also said that it was likely, though not a certainty, that a hard border would return to the island in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

May will travel to Brussels this week, as she continues to fight for her political life against the Brexiteers inside and out of her party.

Speaking earlier, she said this week will be “critical”.

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