Republic of Ireland news

Leo Varadkar rules out pre-Christmas election over Brexit 'uncertainty'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA

LEO Varadkar has ruled out calling a pre-Christmas general election in the Republic.

The taoiseach said yesterday it was "certainly not the right time" for an election in the south amid the "ongoing uncertainty" over Brexit.

He said was it was unclear what impact the UK general election on December 12 would have on its planned withdrawal from the European Union by the new January 31 deadline.

It came after some members of his party had suggested calling an election during the break in Brexit negotiations.

In a post-cabinet briefing, Mr Varadkar smiled as he told reporters he would be "going to the Áras on Monday".

"However, contrary to speculation, I will not be asking for a dissolution of the Dáil," he said.

"Now is certainly not the right time for the country in my view with the ongoing uncertainty about what's going to happen with Brexit.

"We know that there's going to be a UK election on December 12. However, we do not know what the outcome of that election will be and what that will mean for Brexit.

"So we could find ourselves in a difficult period between December 12 and January 31 not knowing if the Brexit agreement will be ratified, not knowing if the new government may seek renegotiation, potentially even facing into the risk of a no-deal Brexit on January 31."

Mr Varadkar added: "I don't think it would be in the country's interest for us to be spending potentially weeks and months trying to put together a new government at such a crucial time for our country.

"I don't think the country needs a caretaker government during that period. It needs this government to stay in office and continue to do the work that we have done to secure an orderly Brexit, prepare for no deal if that were to occur, and also ensure that Ireland's interests are defended."

Mr Varadkar has previously said he favours an election in May 2020.

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