When it comes to the dirty game of politics, all tactics are deployed, writes Elaine Loughlin.

And it was case of blinding them with fancy buns and hipster coffee as Leo Varadkar formally announced he would be putting himself forward to become the next leader of Fine Gael.

Calling a media briefing on Leo Avenue, just off Leo St, located in the Dublin constituency of his birth — which he was keen to point out — a laid-back Leo sauntered down the red-brick-terraced street clutching a tray of coffees.

As the sun beamed down, his star appeal was further cemented by the fact that he had another shining figure, Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe, by his side.

‘Leo’ cupcakes were used to appease the press pack, kept waiting 30 minutes for Leo Varadkar to brief them.
‘Leo’ cupcakes were used to appease the press pack, kept waiting 30 minutes for Leo Varadkar to brief them.

Donohoe described Varadkar as the “most capable politician of my generation”.

He was among a string of Fine Gael TDs who were yesterday rolled out via the airwaves and Twitter streams to declare support for Varadkar to become the next leader of Fine Gael.

This list included Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, junior ministers Patrick O’Donovan and Paul Kehoe, chief whip Regina Doherty, as well as TDs Tony McLoughlin, Fergus O’Dowd, Tom Neville, and John Deasy.

Varadkar seemed to have already grasped the concept of ‘taoiseach time’ as he arrived almost 30 minutes late for the press briefing, perhaps hoping coffee and buns — adorned by a chocolate ‘Leo’ logo — would sweeten up the pack of waiting journalists.

Laying out his stall, he thanked all of the people who had so far gone public in endorsing him and said he was “humbled” by the support.

He will formally launch his campaign in Dublin today before taking it around the country — and was eager to point out that he was looking forward to the hustings.

Leo Varadkar with his biggest supporter to date, Paschal Donohoe, on Leo Street in Dublin.
Leo Varadkar with his biggest supporter to date, Paschal Donohoe, on Leo Street in Dublin.

For the first time, councillors and around 20,000 grassroots members will have a weighted vote in the leadership election — andVaradkar wanted to point out that this had been all down to him.

“It was my proposal back as an early member in my early 20s,” said Varadkar, adding that all members should have their say.

Humble as ever, Varadkar denied the contest was over, despite his growing list of high profile supporters. “It’s day two of a 16-day contest. It started very well and I am really humbled by the level of support that I received.”

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