Varadkar on the brink: ‘Panic’ sets in as rivals plot Leo’s downfall

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Varadkar on the brink: ‘Panic’ sets in as rivals plot Leo’s downfall 1

Ray Bassett was speaking after Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin wrote to Mr Varadkar urging him to fix a date for the election and begin “winding down” his administration – prompting agriculture minister Martin Creed to accuse Mr Martin of trying to turn the country’s leader into a “lame duck”. The spat illustrates the instability at the heart of Ireland’s Government, as well as the uncertainty with respect to Brexit.

Mr Bassett, a former Irish ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told Express.co.uk: “I understand that there is a realisation inside the government that their days are numbered.

“Ministers are urgently asking that some outstanding items are finalised.

“Many are beginning to panic as it seems that the opposition will bring down the Varadkar administration early in the New Year.”

Mr Bassett said while Fine Gael candidates in the four recent by-elections had polled reasonably well, it was clear they were not attracting “transfer” votes from other political parties.

He explained: “Under Ireland’s proportional representation, it is necessary to get transfers if a party hopes to form a Government.

“All opinion polls are pointing to a drop in government approval.

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“It may also be dawning on people that the Backstop is gone and the arrangements in the UK/EU deal only last until the end of 2010.

“All the Irish government efforts to thwart Brexit have failed.”

He added: “There are rumours that several leading figures in the government are looking for alternative careers after the next election.

“There is virtually no confidence inside Fine Gael that they will form the next government.”

In the lead-up to the UK general election, and specifically after a meeting in Dublin between Mr Varadkar and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson which apparently paved the way for a new version of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement which effectively ditched the backstop proposal for Northern Ireland, the Taoiseach enjoyed a popularity boost which prompted calls for an early Irish election.

However, Mr Varadkar opted not to go to the polls, citing the continued risk of a chaotic British exit from the European Union, a decision Mr Bassett suggested he would now be regretting.

He said: “It is clear that Varadkar should have called an early election this autumn which might have mitigated some of his losses but he failed to do so.”

Despite his protestations, Mr Varadkar has written to Mr Martin to suggest a meeting in the New Year to decide on a date for the election, the Irish Independent has reported.

Mr Varadkar’s spokesman last night said: “The Taoiseach has written to Micheál Martin.


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