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Ireland will hold a snap general election on February 8: PM Varadkar

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Ireland will hold a snap general election on February 8: PM Varadkar
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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved - Francisco Seco
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Ireland will hold a general election on Saturday February 8, 2020, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed.

In a statement, the Irish prime minister - who has led a minority government since 2017 - said that he would ask the Irish president, Michael Higgins, to dissolve parliament on January 14.

He said: "I have always said that the election should happen at the best time for the country. Now is that time.

"We have a deal on Brexit, and, after the positive vote in the House of Commons last Thursday, it is now certain that the UK will leave the EU on the 31st of January in an orderly fashion.

"There will be no hard border, citizens’ rights will be protected, and the Common Travel Area will remain in place. The Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive have reconvened."

But, he said, Brexit is not done = it is only "half time".

"The next step is to negotiate a free trade agreement between the EU including Ireland and the United Kingdom that protects our jobs, our businesses, our rural communities and our economy.

"The capacity to do everything else that needs to be done - health, housing, climate action, tax reform - depends on achieving this outcome. And, it has to be done by the end of the year."

Varadkar later posted a video on Twitter outlining what he sees as his achievements in power.

“We've made some good progress since I've become (prime minister)" he said. “But I know it's not enough, and we want to do much more.''

It is unusual for Ireland to hold elections on Saturday, as they are usually held on Thursday or Friday.

Varadkar has been leading a minority government for two years since taking over from former prime minister Enda Kenny in 2017.

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