Who will be the next leader of Fine Gael?

Who will be the next leader of Fine Gael?

Enda has been a strong and consistent friend to the United Kingdom and I want to thank him for all he has done to maintain the unique and close spirit of cooperation between our two nations, which has gone from strength to strength during his time as Taoiseach. It shows Varadkar has the biggest edge on energy and communication skills, while Coveney edges it on loyalty.

"He has a rare combination of intellect and judgment that, I believe, make him the best person to lead Ireland as we deal with new risks, and make the most of some great opportunities".

Mr Coveney said that it "would be doing a disservice to the party" to consider halting his campaign and that "people need to understand and hear in detail what the candidates who are intending to lead the party and country are about".

Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar described him as an "extraordinary Taoiseach and Fine Gael's most successful leader ever".

Dubliner Varadkar is now the clear favourite with the bookies to succeed Enda Kenny as Fine Gael boss, though political sources say it is way too early to call.

"He was an extraordinary taoiseach, leader and colleague and after decades of service to the party and for bringing it back from the verge of extension, we owe him a huge debt of gratitude".

He said that Minister Varadkar has a "vision of a resilient and competitive economy" that can support a fairer Ireland.

Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar and Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney are the clear frontrunners in the race.

Early on, potential candidates Frances Fitzgerald and Richard Bruton declared they would not be running, paving the way for Coveney and Varadkar to take centre stage.

Noonan also said he will not stand for re-election as a member of parliament. Under Fine Gael rules the parliamentary party commands 65 per cent of the votes, with councillors getting 10 per cent and the 21,000 members 25 per cent.

However, those campaigning for Mr Coveney, who has around 20 supporters so far in the parliamentary party, believe another 20 are undecided.

Kenny's successor as party leader is set to be elected by June 2 and Noonan may still oversee the flotation of Allied Irish Banks, which he said could happen in the coming weeks, another landmark in the banking sector recovery.

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