Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will “run as far away as possible from a domestic agenda” if a Brexit deal is agreed and he calls a snap general election.
That is the warning from Labour, who claim issues and services in health, housing and mental health will be left off the table during an election campaign if it is called around a Brexit deal.
Party leader Brendan Howlin made the claim today, but also disagreed with accusations from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that any move for a quick poll by Mr Varadkar was a “stroke”.
He said Mr Varadkar was obviously happy with an IPSOS/Irish Times poll this week which found
Some 60% of voters are also happy with the way the government is handling the Brexit negotiations to date. The poll was taken after the breakthrough in Brexit talks between Mr Varadkar and Mr Johnson last week.
Mr Varadkar is now facing mounting pressure from within Fine Gael to go to the polls and take advantage of the surge in support.
“For Leo, the one thing he won't want is to have to fight a domestic agenda. He won't want to be fighting in terms of health services, in terms of homelessness, housing, of mental health services, particularly for children and adolescents which are in chaos.
“He may well be tempted to have a quick dash at the polls if a settlement is arrived at in the next week,” said Mr Howlin.
Nonetheless, it was not "a stroke" for Mr Varadkar to seek an election, added Mr Howlin:
“I think he will run as far away as he can from the domestic agenda.”
- Tuesday, October 8: Tánaiste Simon Coveney meets the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels.
- Thursday, October 10: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British prime minister Boris Johnson hold a three hour private meeting in Cheshire, England. Afterwards, they release a rare joint statement saying there is a "pathway" to a deal.
- Friday, October 11: Leaks confirm this "pathway" has been trodden on before, and has an uncanny resemblance to Mr Johnson's predecessor Theresa May's 2017 deal. Under the proposals, Northern Ireland would leave the EU with the UK but would continue implementing EU customs rules, creating an Irish sea EU border and preventing a hard Irish border. Stormont could also be given a "consent" vote.
- Sunday, October 13: EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says the Northern Ireland plan may be unworkable. The DUP rejects the existing deal.
- Monday, October 14: Intense EU-UK talks continue during the EU general affairs council and foreign affairs council in Luxembourg, with informed speculation indicating an emergency EU summit will be needed next week as a deal is unlikely this week.
- Tuesday, October 15: Mr Coveney and Mr Barnier mirror the deadline concerns in the morning. However, by late afternoon, sources suggest a deal could be struck early on Wednesday.
- Tomorrow, Wednesday October 16: Mr Barnier will brief EU member state ambassadors on whether a deal can be agreed at this week's EU summit.
- Thursday, October 17-Friday, October 18: EU leaders including Mr Varadkar and Mr Johnson will attend the latest Brussels EU summit. If a deal is ready, they will consider signing off on it. If a deal is not ready, they will discuss a potential emergency EU summit and whether to allow a "technical extension" of a few days.
- Saturday, October 19: Mr Johnson will attend a potential weekend House of Commons sitting to sign off on a deal. If he cannot produce a deal, he will be legally obliged to seek an extension to the October 31 Brexit deadline - provided he complies with British law.