Fine Gael leadership bid off the record
Fine Gael nerves are frazzled, it seems.
We prefer on-the-record comments to off the record comments, but just wanted to share a few off-the-record remarks collected from Fine Gael figures yesterday, mostly by my colleague Marie O’Halloran.
A backbencher said: “Kenny is going to ask the front bench for confidence and support and I don’t think it’s forthcoming from Bruton. But does Bruton have the spine?”
One frontbench member said Mr Bruton “is feeling around, checking support. I’d say Enda probably would have a majority of the front bench”.
Another frontbencher warned “there are consequences”, and added: “Those who don’t have confidence in Enda can’t be on the frontbench. Enda will have to put other people on the front bench. And if Richard doesn’t have confidence, that means he will resign.”
Also declining to be named, another front bench member said “if Richard goes, the game is up for Enda”. One said: “I think Enda will ask the front bench to vote confidence in him. I think Richard will challenge and if there’s a vote I don’t think Enda can continue. He has to have more than a simple majority. If he has six or seven opposed to him, I don’t see how he can continue”.
However, a Kenny supporter said: “I don’t think Richard will get a majority and he needs that”. A Bruton supporter in the shadow cabinet said the issue was no longer about the party. “The public don’t have confidence in Enda. They desperately want someone to have confidence in who isn’t Fianna Fail, and it’s not Enda.
“They want somebody to save them from Fianna Fail. Enda has done some really good work for Fine Gael. He has built up a lot of support and many in the party put a huge dividend on loyalty and they are right. But the public don’t have confidence in him but you can only ignore the public for so long. If we’re not number one at the next election, we’re never going to be”.
One backbencher said: “the issue has always been whether Richard would make the final move and he has. My understanding is he has told Enda he’s no confidence in his leadership any longer. And I think that means that’s it for Enda”.
Another backbencher insisted Bruton “will have to speak at the meeting and could have six people with him”. If Enda Kenny “fights it all the way then it would be very damaging for the party”.
Let’s see what today brings…