Taoiseach claims Sinn Féin rise in polls may make it ‘quite difficult to form a government’

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has admitted his Fine Gael party is lagging behind in the polls but said the General Election is “all to play for”.

It comes as the latest poll shows Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil are the two largest parties in the country.

The Red C poll for the Business Post has the two neck and neck on 24% ahead of Saturday’s vote, with Fine Gael dropping to third on 19%.

1,000 people were polled as part of the survey between Saturday and Thursday last week.

“It’s looking like a very tight election,” he told the BBC.

“We’re a bit behind, but everything is within the margin of error of 3%, so this election is all to play for.

“One thing that won’t happen, you won’t see a coalition involving my party and Sinn Féin. That’s just not going to happen.

“Sinn Féin, in our view, is soft on crime and also high on tax – proposals to tax business, pensions, incomes, wealth, property, you name it, to the tune of €4bn and that would be enormously damaging for the Irish economy, for people’s jobs and incomes and livelihoods and businesses.

“That’s definitely not going to happen.

So, the likelihood is actually going to be quite difficult to form a government over the next couple of months.

Mr Varadkar said that there will difficulty over Brexit negotiations if there is trouble forming a government.

“Negotiations will take place between the UK and the EU, but we’re very much plugged into the EU side. We’re part of the ‘Team 27’ and we have a lot of influence in that regard as the EU trade commissioner is an Irishman,” he added.

“I think there will be difficulty if we have trouble forming a government in Ireland.

“The reason why the election is happening now is I took the decision that now was the best time, that there was a window of opportunity to have an election here in Ireland.

“We’d have to have one anyway by spring of next year.

“I chose this as the window of opportunity to have an election and to have a new government in place by that crucial European Council meeting in March, so I know that is something the Irish public will reflect on when they go to the polls at the weekend, we need to have a stable government because that’s essential for our future in so many different ways.”



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