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Leo Varadkar: ‘I’ve changed my mind and will stay in politics for the long haul’

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 19/05/2017 Kevin Doyle

Fine Gael's Paschal Donohoe and Leo Varadkar arrive with hot drinks for media © Provided by Irish Independent Fine Gael's Paschal Donohoe and Leo Varadkar arrive with hot drinks for media Leo Varadkar has u-turned on his plan to retire from politics by the age of 51, saying he is now a career politician.

The Social Protection Minister said in 2015 that he had an “exit strategy” because he “definitely” wanted to do something else.

“I don’t see myself in politics at 51. Whatever I do next it will be different, not politics,” he said.

However, as he made his first public appearance since the start of the Fine Gael leadership race Mr Varadkar said he is now in it for the long haul.

The 38-year-old said: “I’m absolutely committed to politics. So long as I feel I’m committed to politics and I do feel I’m making a difference it’s going to be a job and a career for me. So long as the people want me.”

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe, who stood alongside Mr Varadkar on Leo Street in north-inner Dublin city centre, said he expects the doctor to be leader for “many, many years”.

The two ministers arrived at the event with coffees and Leo branded cupcakes for the media.

Mr Varadkar has boost into a massive early lead in the race to succeed Enda Kenny but told reporters: “I’m not counting my chickens.”

“I’m really humbled at the level of support I have received from my colleagues. I really looking forward to the hustings and the debates,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said he the “wounds caused by the recession are still very real” but he wants to sign a “social contract” with people.

“Everybody should have an equal opportunity to succeed.”

He said that Simon Coveney’s strong Fine Gael history would not put him at a disadvantage with the grassroots of the party who hold 25pc of the vote.

And he promised to reveal a series of policy papers over the coming days.

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