Varadkar open to confidence-and-supply agreement with FF even 'if the shoe was on the other foot'

Varadkar open to confidence-and-supply agreement with FF even 'if the shoe was on the other foot'

Update: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that “if the shoe was on the other foot” and Fianna Fáil had the majority after the next general election then Fine Gael would have to consider a Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Fine Gael’s policies would have to form part of any such agreement he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“Yes, we would have to give consideration to that. We would have to negotiate a Confidence and Supply Agreement. A lot of our policies would have to form part of any such agreement.”

However, he said the fact that Fianna Fáil had not collapsed the Government did not give them a free pass.

The Taoiseach also said that he believes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “acting in good faith” in the Brexit negotiations, but Mr Varadkar acknowledged that the “gap is very wide” between both sides.

“We have always said we would be willing to look at alternative agreements, but what we’re seeing falls far short.

We are exploring what is possible. The gap is very wide, but we will fight for and work for a deal until the last moment, but not at any cost.

Mr Varadkar said that while some customs checks could be required close to the border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Government has not yet identified any location for where those checks would take place.

His aim, he said, is to protect lives, jobs and livelihoods. If checks are necessary they will be at ports, airports and at business level, though some might have to be near the border. Once an agreement has been reached the Government will immediately give notice to businesses, he added.

When asked if he believed the UK was committed to the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Varadkar said he did.

On the topic of the next general election, Mr Varadkar said that he hopes that when the election comes “people will judge us in the round.”

Mr Varadkar said he was running a country not a business with a balance sheet. “We need to give money where it is needed without cutting services.”

He acknowledged that homelessness remains a major challenge, but said that while figures have levelled off a lot more needs to be done.

When asked if he gave credit to Fianna Fáil for supporting the Government during a difficult time, he said: “they’ve done the right thing, the responsible thing.

“Their role has been important and I regret that they were not willing to agree to an extension, that they declined to do so.

I believe they deserve some credit for not opposing, for facilitating this government.

Earlier: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he does not have sleepless nights over Brexit, but acknowledged that the issue is worrying.

He told Newstalk Breakfast that the forthcoming Budget will be different because of Brexit and dismissed Fiscal Advisory Council criticism.

"There is a difference between running a country and running a business. As politicians we have to respond to the demands and needs of the people," he said.

When asked about bookies odds that he is no longer favourite to be next Taoiseach, he responded: "I don't think the gloss has worn off, it's normal for opinion polls to go up and down, bookies odds change, it's not something that concerns me."

Yesterday, Mr Varadkar indicated at the Fine Gael pre-Dáil think-in that he believes May 2020 is the "right time" to hold the next general election.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has called on TD Noel Grealish to clarify comments he allegedly made about migrants.

The Independent TD is alleged to have made derogatory comments about asylum seekers at a meeting in Oughterard in County Galway.

Deputy Grealish supports the government in most votes in the Dáil.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called on him to make a statement about the meeting.

- Additional reporting Digital Desk

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