Deputy Peter Burke and Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar.
Longford/Westmeath TD Peter Burke says he is backing Leo Varadkar to become the next leader of Fine Gael.
Deputy Burke revealed today, "After detailed consideration, I have chosen to support Minister Leo Varadkar as the next leader of Fine Gael. I have made this decision after consultation with my constituents, Fine Gael members and drawing on my experience within the party over the last decade.
"I also believe that we need to think about the future of our country and with this in mind, I believe the best choice for the next Taoiseach is Leo Varadkar.
"I am not someone who sits on the fence on an issue and I believe it is important for the people of Longford/Westmeath to know how I am voting. Leo has a strong record of achieving practical results in Government. He has come from no political background and risen up through the ranks, holding a number of key front bench and cabinet positions.
"He has always made himself available to members of the Parliamentary Party and myself at any point, and I have brought up a number of groups from both Longford and Westmeath to meet him in his office to discuss various policy issues.
"As the only Fine Gael Government TD in this constituency, I believe it is important for the people of this area to have access to the Taoiseach and for me to have a good working relationship with the candidate. This will be continued on if Leo is elected.
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"Leo Varadkar has only been in social protection one year and he has already increased disability benefit and carers allowance for the first time in 7 years, as well as the blind pension, lone parents allowance and illness benefit.
"Everyone in receipt of the State pension also has received a weekly increase. In health, he doubled the number of discretionary medical cards defusing the difficulties which had arisen from the withdrawal of medical cards, and brought in free GP care for children and those over 70.
"There are two strong candidates in the race, and I know that neither will let the competition become divisive for the party or the country. Leo is pro-Europe and pro-business in the mould of Macron and Merkel. I believe Fine Gael has shown true leadership over the past number of years, as well as ambition and positivity for our country. We now have the opportunity to break the boom and bust cycle, and for our country to remain stable, sustainable and work for its people. Leo Varadkar is the man to lead us in this charge."