A senior member of Theresa May's cabinet has indicated that an agreement on Ireland-related issues after Brexit is more likely to be made at the October summit of EU leaders rather than in June.

David Lidington, the UK's Minister for the Cabinet Office, has held a series of meetings in Co Louth today.

Mr Lidington’s visit comes before the arrival on Monday of Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator in the Brexit negotiations, who will speak at a conference in Dundalk.

The next EU summit discussions on Brexit are due in June, but the crunch time may drift to October.

Earlier this week, Brexit Secretary David Davis made a short visit to the border area.

He said that he regarded June as an "artificial deadline" before the crunch period in October when EU negotiators say the withdrawal agreement must be ready to allow time for ratification.

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Last night, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Britain and EU negotiators must make further progress on the border issue by June if talks are to move forward on a final withdrawal agreement.

He warned all parties would have to ask themselves "serious questions as to whether there can be a withdrawal agreement at all" if no breakthrough is reached by that date.

Speaking to reporters in the Belgian city of Leuven, Mr Varadkar again urged the UK government to change tack if it wants to secure a close relationship with the EU after Brexit

He said the biggest barrier to a deal were the "very, very hard red lines that the UK government has set down".

Additional reporting Reuters