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'Not in the country's interests': Varadkar rules out general election due to ongoing Brexit uncertainty

'Not in the country's interests': Varadkar rules out general election due to ongoing Brexit uncertainty

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has ruled out calling a snap pre-Christmas general election warning it would "not be in the country's interests", despite a number of Fine Gael ministers insisting he should go to the polls now.

Mr Varadkar moved to kill off growing speculation over the potential move on Wednesday, saying any rush to the polls before Christmas could throw Ireland into "weeks or months" of confusion that would risk causing further Brexit damage.

In recent days, a number of Fine Gael TDs privately pushed for a pre-Christmas election, saying there is a window before the December 12 British general election, that Brexit has been extended until January 31, that any winter health and homelessness crisis should be avoided and that Fine Gael has risen marginally in the latest opinion poll.

Counter points have been that polls change, the British general election window does not mean it has to be used, that Brexit has yet to be resolved, and that the health and homelessness plan is too blatant.

And, in a clear decision on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar confirmed that despite speculation he may call a snap election there will be no rush to the polls.

Speaking to reporters at Government Buildings, the Taoiseach joked he was travelling to Aras an Uachtarain but that "contrary to speculation I will not be asking for the dissolution of the Dáil" due to "ongoing uncertainty" in Britain.

"We do not know what the outcome of that election will be, so we could find ourselves in a difficult period between December 12 and January 31 not knowing if the Brexit agreement will be ratified.

"I don't think it will be in the country's interest to be facing into weeks and months [of Government formation talks] at such a crucial time," he said.

The Irish Examiner understands Mr Varadkar gave a similar message to the weekly Fine Gael ministers meeting before cabinet on Wednesday morning, saying there will be no November or early December vote - a view that no minister contradicted at the meeting.

Fine Gael TD for Cork North Central Dara Murphy - who is not contesting the next general election - had earlier told RTE Radio a November election should be called as there is a window between now and Britain's December 12 election.

However, Fianna Fáil's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath disagreed, saying: "This is about a number of Fine Gael ministers getting out of their job, because they're sinking."

Independent Alliance TD and Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath similarly said a snap pre-Christmas general election is "not in the country's interests" and is being pushed by "young turks in cabinet", saying:

"Brexit is not resolved, people need to calm down... It [a snap election] would be bonkers."

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