Flash: Varadkar resigns in political shock
Flash: Varadkar resigns in political shock


Leo Varadkar has quit as Fine Gael leader and will also resign as 26 County Taoiseach within weeks, he announced today.

He was speaking in the courtyard of Government Buildings in Dublin, where there had been reports of “frantic meetings” this morning.

Word came at a meeting of the 26 County Cabinet earlier this morning. Ministers met for the first time since the defeat of the referendum and following their return from trips abroad for St Patrick’s Day.

There had been speculation of a potential ‘heave’ against him. Speaking at the hastily arranged photocall, he said: “It has been the most fulfilling time of my life”.

He told the media that he was quitting due to both “personal and political” reasons, and after “deep soul searching” believes he is “not the best person for the job anymore”.

Accompanied by party colleagues, he confirmed his immediate departure as leader of the Fine Gael party, and that he will also resign as Taoiseach once a successor is appointed in a few weeks.

A new leader is to be chosen by the party in a process which is likely to be completed by its annual Ard Fheis conference in early April.

When Mr Varadkar formally resigns as Taoiseach, all ministers are deemed to have resigned, and a new Taoiseach and coalition government must be elected by the Dáil, something which could prove difficult.

Varadkar’s resignation is sure to lead to calls for a general election and a fresh mandate for any incoming government.

His departure comes in the wake of a disastrous referendum campaign on two constitutional amendments on the family and care in the home, which were rejected by margins of two- and three-to-one respectively.

He is also linked in the public mind to highly unpopular policies of limited public housing and unlimited immigration, which have combined to bring about a severe shortage of accommodation and significant demographic change in many party of the country.

With many facing an uphill battle for re-election, a number of prominent Fine Gael TDs had already said they will not be contesting the next election.

Yesterday Ciaron Cannon quit as Galway East TD, blaming the “toxicity” of Irish politics.

John Paul Phelan, Michael Creed, Richard Bruton, Brendan Griffin, Joe McHugh, Fergus O’Dowd, David Stanton, Charlie Flanagan and Paul Kehoe have all made similar announcements.

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