Whipping boy: Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar is under attack from the Labour Party

Leo Varadkar's role as the Labour Party's favourite whipping boy continued this weekend when he was accused by Cork East's Sean Sherlock of having "more positions than the Kama Sutra" on how to deal with the budget deficit.

Sherlock's comment is the latest chapter in a row between the two main opposition parties over their respective approaches to dealing with the budget crisis.

Tensions heightened last week when Dublin West TD Varadkar claimed during an interview on Newstalk's Breakfast Show that Labour's Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton "are not being honest" about what they would do to reduce the Irish deficit.

"I heard [Labour TD] Ciaran Lynch saying he wasn't sure if Labour could stand over the Croke Park deal. I've heard [former Labour leader] Ruairí Quinn say he's in favour of water charges, where as when we listen to the 'Eamon and Joan show' it's totally different. The Eamon and Joan show is all: no tax increases, no cuts, 'we'll just magic it away'.

"I think that what will happen is that after the election, the real Labour Party is going to have to stand up and let's hope it's the Labour party of Ruairí Quinn and Pat Rabbitte and not the Eamon and Joan show, which just isn't honest. There are two Labour parties."

Joan Burton hit back by effectively questioning whether Varadkar had done a proper day's work in his life and now Sherlock has come out fighting, rubbishing the Fine Gael TD's claim that the Labour Party is split over its approach to correcting the budget deficit.

He said Varadkar "has given different figures on the frontloading of the December budget and his position on the economy constantly changes.

"We won't be taking any lectures from him about the economy. Leo should not be telling us what should be done or what our position should be. We are a united party and we are united behind the leader. Leo has had more positions on the economy than the Kama Sutra."

Refuting the 'Eamon and Joan show' jibe, Sherlock added: "Of all the party leaders' speeches during last week's Dáil debate on the economy, Eamon's was definitely the most specific.

"You know by the number of deputies sitting behind him and the way his speech was received by the Labour TDs that we are all behind him.

"It is also important to point out that we are united but we have 20 different voices and we are not homogenous. The Labour Party allows the TDs to have their own opinions on what should be done to repair the economy."