Fianna Fáil agrees to support Leo Varadkar for another year in ‘national interest’

Fianna Fáil have agreed to support Leo Varadkar for another year in power without securing any promises or concessions in exchange.

In a gamble that threatened to alienate some of his backbenchers and grassroots supporters, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has staved off an election until early 2020.

Citing the threat of significant chaos that Brexit poses, Mr Martin said “business as usual is not acceptable” and while in normal times it would be the “right thing” to call a general election he said the national interests must be put ahead of party politics.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the new deal, which is a simple extension of the Confidence and Supply agreement with no extra caveats, was good for both parties and for the country.

“The timing of this announcement is important, at a time when clearly there is a lot of uncertainty around Brexit and the British political system, the Irish political system has responded in the way that it should,” said Mr Coveney.

But Fianna Fáil members were last night split over the agreement, with some angered that no new demands had been made or obtained in the process. Others noted that they had already been put under pressure from grassroots members who believe the three-budget Confidence and Supply agreement has damaged the party.

Announcing an extension of the deal to include support for an emergency legislation or supplementary budgets that may be required if Britain crashed out of the EU, Mr Martin admitted it was “a very difficult decision” that some members of his party would “not be very happy with”.

Mr Martin said “anxiety levels within the general public have risen considerably” in the past six weeks as uncertainty looms around Brexit and any extension to the deal which was hammered out after the 2016 election would not have even been contemplated if this had not been the case.

A party source said that while no additional stipulations had been forced on Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil would be ensuring that all aspects of the original confidence and supply agreement are introduced and teams for both parties will be meeting every eight weeks to ensure this is enforced.

Mr Martin said his party would also be looking for agreement on the passage of a number of pieces of legislation.

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