Britain's former chancellor of the exchequer has said that a quick, zero-tariff trade deal between the UK and the European Union would do away with the need for a UK-wide backstop.

Philip Hammond has suggested that the UK accept a Northern Irish backstop which would be put alongside a bilateral deal between the UK and the EU which would keep them aligned on regulations and customs arrangements.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Hammond said this would allow both parties to continue to trade freely and without tariffs.

He said this would mean that the British economy is protected and would also means there are no hard barriers in the Irish Sea - a red-line issue for the DUP.

He said the difference between this proposal and a UK-wide backstop is that because the trade arrangements would be in a bilateral treaty, the British parliament could decide to end them at a point in the future if it wished to.

This would leave the Northern Irish backstop in place.

Mr Hammond said he believed this would address the concerns of his "Brexiteer colleagues" who are worried that Britain could be "trapped" in a UK-wide backstop forever.
 

Mr Hammond said that the Brexit debate in the UK has been dominated by the idea of agreeing free trade deals with third countries, but said evidence shows their benefit would be neglible.

"Evidence shows all those free trade deals would only add 0.2% and 0.6% to the GDP of the UK, while losing access to the EU markets would cost us between 4% and 7%," he said.

He said it does not make sense to be driven by the need to do these free trade deals if they come at the price of losing access to the EU market.

Mr Hammond also said he is disappointed that the Conservative Party has "turned its back" on members and has chosen to eject people who do not agree with the position of the current Prime Minister and government.

He added that if a deal is to be reached on Brexit, it will require compromise by all parties.

"Everyone has to be prepared to compromised, everyone has to be prepared to give up something in order to find a landing zone," he said.

The Conservative MP also said he believed that an extension to the 31 October Brexit deadline is likely, but added that the UK must show the well of ideas has not run dry.

"I've put forward a proposal myself, I'm not suggesting it is the only or best way forward but it is a contribution to the debate," he said.