The Taoiseach believes comments he made recently were misinterpreted by his colleagues as a hint that there would be a general election in the autumn.

Speaking after last month's Local and European Parliament elections, Leo Varadkar said he was not ruling out a general election, but added he would not be seeking the dissolution of the Dáil in the coming days or weeks.

Mr Varadkar also told the Fine Gael parliamentary party a fortnight ago that the next election would see all their faces on the ballot paper.

This was widely interpreted as an indication that the four by-elections, triggered by the election of four TDs to the European Parliament, would not take place.

Instead, many in Fine Gael believed that a general election would be held before Christmas.

Today, the Taoiseach denied he was sending out mixed messages around the timing of the next general election.

Mr Varadkar's latest intervention is in keeping with a widespread view in Leinster House this week that the next election will not take place until 2020.

This thinking is fueled by uncertainty around Brexit, which has been amplified by the Conservative Party leadership contest in the UK.