Mr Varadkar signalled that he wants to met US President Donald Trump in the White House for St Patrick’s Day and attending an EU Council meeting in March but calling an election.
He said this would allow a new government to be in place “well in advance of the next summer recess”.
“We should also, by then, have secured a Brexit Deal or have guided the country through the worst of No Deal. Though timelines, when it comes to Brexit, are unpredictable,” he said.
Taoiseach was addressing a private meeting of Fine Gael TDs and senators at a party gathering in Cork this afternoon.
The timeline means four by-elections, caused by the election of TDs to the European Parliament, will have to be held later this year.
Mr Varadkar sought to limit expectation for those contests, saying Fine Gael should aim to win one.
However, he said they would win the general election and secure a historic third term in power.
“I believe we can win that election. In fact, I am sure of it even though it may not become apparent until the last week or ten days of the Election Campaign.
“The country is on the right track. The economy is strong with full employment and rising incomes. We have the best team and the best plans. That is shining through,” he said.
Mr Varadkar launched a blistering attack on Fianna Fáil and went so far as to claim the Green Party could become “the Trojan Horse” that allows Micheál Martin become Taoiseach.
“They’ve done it before. We don’t want to go back to that,” he said.
The Taoiseach claimed Fianna Fáil is making financial promises that “can only be filled with higher taxes or greater borrowing”.
“They need to come clean and tell us. There’s a new promise to a new group every week. And when you promise everything to everyone, it means your promises aren’t worth much. They can’t be trusted.
“They have no solutions. No policies. No plans. And they do not have the team to match ours,” he said.
On Sinn Féin, Mr Varadkar said they have “demonstrated what political impotence really looks like”.
“The Executive and Assembly in Stormont shuttered. Sinn Féin MPs taking their expenses and salaries but not their seats in Westminster when crucial decisions affecting Ireland were being made.”
He added: “They don’t see Brexit as a problem – they see it as an opportunity. Calling for a border poll isn’t showing leadership on Brexit. It’s really bad timing and risks making a bad situation worse. It’s the very opposite of leadership.”
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