Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that if Boris Johnson wants a quick free trade agreement with the European Union then it would be in his interests to negotiate a very close relationship, rather than a bare bones Canada-type agreement, which he said would "take longer to negotiate."

Speaking in Zagreb the Taoiseach said: "The quickest deal that we can negotiate is one that's very similar to our current relationship, the more the future relationship diverges from the status quo the longer it's going to take.

"If the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified in December or January I think we'll hit the ground running right away and negotiate a free trade agreement.

"I think it's possible but very ambitious to get that done by December 2020, because it has to be ratified by over 20 parliaments and that's going to be difficult, but the option is there to extend the transition period for another year or two if we don't have it done by then."

The Taoiseach added: "Let's not forget what's there in the Joint Political Declaration, which we agreed.

"We're talking about a mutual desire to have tariff free, quota-free trade between the EU and UK and also to have a level playing field, and that's what the outgoing British government has signed up to. I think that would be the best outcome for Ireland.

"Obviously anything that diverges from that, anything that involves tariffs, anything that involves quotas, or involves an unfair playing field would be to our disadvantage."