Is it possible that Leo Varadkar might find being leader of Fine Gael is something tougher than a stroll along the prom? Dismissing Mary Lou McDonald as a Marine Le Pen in disguise suggests Leo is fonder of not-terribly-effective name-calling rather than argument; a great number of his rural party members may not be as completely comfortable with the first-gay-and-first-ethnic-minority-leader tag as the liberal denizens of South Dublin; and, most important of all, Simon Coveneny keeps hovering on the edge of public consciousness.
As Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon is of course just doing his job, up north talking about Brexit. (Yes I know, Virginia: Fine Gael do see us as a bit foreign.) Simon was on The View last night and I haven’t seen him looking more composed in a long time. He managed to make all the right noises: concern for ‘Northern Ireland’ as ‘Ireland’ ‘s fellow-state on the island, concern for the East-West dimension (what nearer and dearer relation could anyone want than Britain?); while at the same time making it clear that ‘Ireland’ is a part of the cohesive EU27 bloc. Simon talked to Mark Carruthers in a, well dammit, in a leaderly way.
It’s great to have a team member who can play as skillfully as Simon; it’s a bit less great if your team player finds ways of reminding the public that should Lycra Leo prove a busted Fine Gael bet, there’s always a more dependable but thoroughly modern man waiting in the wings.
Pssst, Leo. Simon hasn’t gone away, you know.