Earlier this week, it was revealed Ireland could postpone plans for a general election amid fears Mr Varadkar will need more time to steady the cou
Earlier this week, it was revealed Ireland could postpone plans for a general election amid fears Mr Varadkar will need more time to steady the country after a possible no deal Brexit. Ireland fears Britain leaving the European Union on October 31 without an agreement in place could spark an economic disaster, with 50,000 jobs possibly at risk in such a scenario. Instead of trying to trigger an early general election, a spokesman for government partners Fianna Fail, who prop up the Irish Prime Minister on a confidence and supply basis, insisted they would support Mr Varadkar’s Fine Gael for a fourth budget under their joint pact.
Michael McGrath told Irish broadcaster RTÉ the country’s voters would much prefer their politicians to focus on challenges of a “crash out Brexit” instead of pushing for a general election.
In May, an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll revealed Mr Varadkar’s approval rating had plummeted to record lows.
Satisfaction with the Irish Prime Minister fell by seven points to 36 percent – the lowest level since he became Taoiseach in 2017.
The poll was taken from May 7-9 among 500 voters in each of the three European Parliament constituencies.
Simon Harris has talked up his ambitions of one day becoming Ireland’s Prime Minister
There are fears Leo Varadkar will need more time to stabilise Ireland following a possible no deal Brexit
Now 32-year-old Mr Harris, who succeeded Mr Varadkar as Health Minister in 2016, has reignited his ambition to become Ireland’s Prime Minister.
Mr Harris has had an eventful three years in the health office, an area of the Government that presents an often troubled portfolio that ministers can struggle with.
Former Health Minister and Taoiseach Brian Cowen is once said to have described this area of government as “Angola” for being full of political landmines.
Mr Harris had to manage the disastrous fallout from the cervical cancer screening failure which had occurred before his tenure.
READ MORE: Varadkar Brexit crisis: Furious Irish businesses demand a deal
Simon Harris has talked up his achievements as Health Minister
This saw women receive incorrect results from a public cervical cancer screening program, with 200 developing cervical cancer afterwards.
He has also come under increasing pressure for not finding a solution to huge hospital waiting times for patients and in February survived a no confidence vote after the disclosure of massive cost overruns at a children’s hospital.
But in a new interview with Politico, he hinted at one day looking at becoming Prime Minister.
He said: “Certainly, if you manage the Department of Health, I suppose it shows your abilities to take on a big role in government.”
Does Ireland really believe EU26 are STILL behind them on Brexit? [ANALYSIS]
Brexit power grab: Ireland given economic chaos warning [FORECAST]
Varadkar under fire: Irish politicians lash out at PM [COMMENT]
Simon Harris stressed his continued support for Leo Varadkar
Mr Harris also talked up some of his notable achievements in his three years as Health Minister.
These include building public support for the referendum in Ireland last year that effectively legalised abortion, negotiating favourable prices for drugs to treat cystic fibrosis patients, and agreeing on a health care reform plan with opposition parties to address patient overcrowding in hospital.
He said: “I’m now at the ripe old age of 32, one of the longest-serving health ministers in the EU, which is kind of interesting, in a minority government.
“I got involved in politics through an activist background and through my advocacy work, and I do genuinely believe that politics and political office are a way of bringing about social change.”
Ireland’s economy could shrink massively in the event of a no deal Brexit
Leo Varadkar has seen his approval rating plummet in Ireland
When Enda Kenny, then-leader of the centre-right Fine Gael resigned as Prime Minister in 2017, Mr Harris flirted with the idea of launching an ambitious leadership bid.
But he instead backed Simon Coveney, now deputy head of the Irish government, to replace the outgoing Prime Minister.
Mr Varadkar was victorious in the proceeding elections, and Mr Harris was the only minister from the previous government to keep his job.
He had also succeeded Mr Varadkar as Health Minister in 2016, who had only spent two years in the job.
The pair have stood tall together over the past 12 months to respond to the fall out from the Cervical Check crisis.
Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney went head-to-head in the race to become Prime Minister
Mary Harney, Ireland’s Health Minister between 2004 and 2011, heaped praise on Mr Harris, and told Politico: “I admire the way he handled the abortion referendum.
“He works extremely hard, he’s very popular, he’s very hands on.”
But despite his lofty ambitions and what he has achieved over the past three years, Mr Harris is careful to stress his continued support for Mr Varadkar and has no immediate to throw his hat into the ring for the top job.
He said: “I’m very supportive of our current Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who is obviously a young Taoiseach and doing a brilliant job.”
In June, the Health Minister had told the Sunday Independent “you never say never” when asked if he wanted to be Taoiseach, before adding: “I’m ambitious but being Taoiseach is not something for now.”