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Simon Harris to become Ireland’s youngest prime minister | Ireland

Simon Harris will become Ireland’s youngest prime minister after the leadership race for his Fine Gael party ended with no other candidates coming forward.

The leadership position was left vacant last week after leader Leo Varadkar abruptly announced his resignation “for personal and political reasons”.

Harris, 37, was the only candidate for higher education minister when nominations closed at 1pm on Sunday, but he will remain minister until April 9, when Ireland’s parliament, the Dail, resumes after the Easter break. will not take office.

He outlined his leadership priorities on Sunday at a selection conference in Athlone, Co. Westmeath, to select the party’s candidates for June’s European Parliament elections.

Harris will call on the centre-right Fine Gael party, which governs alongside fellow conservatives Fianna Fáil and the Greens, to return to core values ​​such as paying working wages, being tough on law and order and supporting farmers. He said he hopes so.

“Fine Gael means supporting businesses across this country, especially small and medium-sized businesses. Fine Gael stands for rewarding work, valuing work and valuing the people who go to work. I am.”

To cheers from the audience, he added, “The great Gael represents law and order.”

He also told delegates that being elected was “the absolute honor of my life”. To a standing ovation, he concluded: you? “

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys, who hails from a rural border constituency, is expected to be named deputy leader of the party.

Mr Harris gave no indication of any possible changes to the ranks of Fine Gael’s cabinet. However, there is speculation that ministers who do not intend to stand in the next election may be removed. It is widely believed that Simon Coveney will be a casualty of this appointment.

Mr Varadkar resigned after taking responsibility for the government’s failure to update the constitution’s text on women and families in a recent referendum.

Mr. Harris is widely considered to be an excellent communicator, especially on social media. He has held a number of ministerial portfolios, including health, during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

He was widely praised for his response to the crisis, but also for incorrectly saying in a radio interview that there were 18 other coronaviruses before COVID-19, which he called a “terrible boo-boo”. I had to apologize.

Until Mr Varadkar’s resignation, it had been thought that Ireland’s next general election would be held in October following a September contribution budget, but Fianna Fail and Green Party leaders have warned that the government will not be in office until the end of the term. He said that he believes that the remaining 12 months of 2020 should be seen through to the end.

Although Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are both trailing left-wing nationalist parties Sinn Féin, Ireland’s main opposition party, in opinion polls, the political situation remains very fluid.

Sinn Féin, formerly the political wing of the IRA, is the largest party in Northern Ireland’s parliament.

Sunday Business Post poll show support That’s because all three parties collapsed as a result of the referendum that required them to vote in favor of the proposed changes.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has called for an immediate election, but Harris is unlikely to grant that. Instead, he is expected to prioritize revitalizing the party and focus on key concerns for voters, such as housing.

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