The UK has to face up to the fact that decision time is here on Brexit, EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has said.

Addressing the Seanad this morning, the former Fine Gael TD said Britain is stuck in a "self-imposed contradiction" on Brexit and it is trying to invent "a new type of border" that is unworkable.

Mr Hogan said: "We are still stuck fast in the UK's self-imposed contradiction between its reassurance of a soft border and its hardline demands."

He noted that British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a recent speech that the UK was not about to walk away and leave it to Ireland and the EU to deal with the border question.

He said while this is positive, Ireland is still stuck between reassurances and hardline demands, which have led the EU to offer a free-trade agreement.

"The UK wants to keep its red lines, understands that a free trade agreement means a hard border, and is trying to escape by 'inventing' a new type of border.

"It says a soft border can be assured - even in a free trade agreement - through new customs practices and modern technology, what I have called a cyber border," Mr Hogan said.

"The EU has looked at the UK's ideas; is not convinced that they can give us the border security we need, within the Brexit timescale; and has sent the UK back to the drawing board. Meanwhile it insists on the back-stop of a customs union for the whole island.

"An Taoiseach and the Government, supported by the EU, have made it clear that they are not fudgers. The UK has to face up to the fact that decision time is here. 

"The EU must be satisfied the UK's invention will work or it is the backstop. The deadline is set for June. No decision, no Withdrawal Treaty; no Withdrawal Treaty, no transition."

He said that the UK is within a year of leaving the European Union and it needs to "evaluate future arrangements with the EU to find a solution that will be in the best interests of UK people, as workers and as consumers."

He said that in his view, "a landing zone involving some form of customs arrangement and softening of the red lines must be in the best interest of all concerned.

"Or do the Brexiteers want to carry on the civil war until there's not a building left standing on the other side?  Is this the sort of victory they seek? If so, they don't only endanger the UK's economy but its society also."

Mr Hogan was critical of a recent statement by senior Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg in relation to Irish beef, labelling it "unhelpful and irresponsible."

He said "this is his stock in trade."

In his concluding remarks, Mr Hogan said "the Brexit storm has yet to pass, although we have, in the last couple of months, made good progress towards safeguarding our future.

"The EU has stood with Ireland, defended Ireland and, in doing so, has demonstrated its value.  We are not out of the woods by any means.  But we can draw confidence from everything that has happened so far."