The Taoiseach has said that comment from Ireland on developments at Westminster would only backfire but that Ireland was open to the idea of the UK asking for a Brexit extension.

Leo Varadkar was speaking in New York as the House of Commons returned from its suspension today.

He said: "I think we're a good bit away from a request for an extension from the UK at this stage. I've always said that Ireland would be open to granting an extension if they asked for it, but they would have to ask for it and it's not for us to impose it on them.

"There are a lot of other European countries though that are increasingly skeptical about whether there should be an extension or not and would want it to happen for a good reason".

Mr Varadkar said he would rather see a deal being ratified that would end the uncertainty that has been affecting businesses and citizens.

He said: "I think we've seen many twists and turns when it comes to British internal politics over the last couple of years. The best thing for us I think is to stay out of it and allow internal politics in Britain to operate on its own without any interference or commentary from us".

The Taoiseach said he intended to meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the next week or two before the upcoming European Union summit.

He said his meeting with Mr Johnson yesterday was "good" and they had talked more about the detail around the Withdrawal Agreement and a joint political declaration.

However, he said: "The gap is very wide and I think there's a lot of work to be done if we can get a deal".

Mr Varadkar and European Council President Donald Tusk are keen to see written proposals from the UK by early October.

The Taoiseach said that if European Leaders are going to be in a position to finalise matters at their summit in the middle of October, then things will have to be teed up in advance.

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He said: "Any further clarity from the United Kingdom would be welcome. It's definitely the case that there has been a change in policy due to the change in prime minister and government" who he said were looking for a looser Canada style relationship which would make the backstop all the more necessary.

Asked if his position was strengthened by developments at Westminster, the Taoiseach said: "What we want is to get to a situation where we're able to have a deal and a deal that gets ratified not just by the House of Commons and the House of Lords but also by the European Parliament and the European Council".

He said: "There's always the risk of no-deal by accident and that's something to be aware of".

Coveney: Focus on avoiding no-deal Brexit

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said he and the Taoiseach have made a point of not commenting on internal British political issues.

He said their focus remains on avoiding a no-deal outcome to Brexit "consistent with the position Ireland has held now for three years in terms of the need to protect a peace process, to prevent physical border infrastructure on or anywhere near the border and also to protect British-Irish relations and to protect Ireland's place in the EU and in its single market and the customs union".

Mr Coveney added: "All of the drama that surrounds British politics is really a matter for Westminster and for political parties in the UK and our focus needs to remain on getting a deal that works".

Asked about the British parliament sitting today, he said: "I think having a parliament sitting is always a good thing because its how democracy works. But unfortunately the British parliament has not managed to coalesce around an approach that can get a deal on Brexit and that is a matter for them".

He said Ireland's responsibility is to continue to be honest, to deal with the problems that are very real on the island of Ireland as a consequece of Brexit.

Additional reporting Mícheál Lehane