The Taoiseach has said a harder than anticipated approach to Brexit by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is a risk to Ireland.

This afternoon Mr Johnson won approval for his Brexit deal in parliament, the first step towards fulfilling his election pledge to deliver Britain's departure from the European Union by 31 January after his landslide victory.

Leo Varadkar said that while a lot has been achieved in the Withdrawal Agreement, he remains concerned about Brexit because the question of trade is still open.

"The UK is our nearest neighbour, one of biggest trading partners and so much of our economy and jobs and our prosperity is dependent on trade with Britain," he said.

"If we want to continue to have jobs growth, income growth, economic growth and the monies to invest in health care and education, housing and everything else we are going to need to have a good trade deal for Ireland with Britain.

"The harder approach being taken by Prime Minister Johnson is a risk to us and that is evident," the Taoiseach added.

Mr Varadkar said it will be a "tall order" to agree and ratify a trade deal by the end of 2020.

"What he [Boris Johnson] has said is that he wants to have exactly what we want which is quota free, tariff free access to each other's markets with the minimum amount of bureaucracy and checks," Mr Varadkar said.

"So we are going to need to work very closely on this one, it is going to be a really big file for 2020. What he has said is that he doesn't want there to be alignment.

"However there are different ways of achieving things than alignment. There is also equivalence and there is also the possibility of a common minimum floor of standards.

"That is the kind of thing that we are going to have to work on. But it is going to be a tall order to get that agreed and ratified by the end of 2020," he said.

"But having done the job so far and led the country this far on Brexit with the Tánaiste and with Minister McEntee it is a challenge I am up for in 2020."

Taoiseach to 'reflect' on timing of General Election

The Taoiseach has said he will reflect on the best timing for a general election over Christmas.

Leo Varadkar said he will respond this week to a letter from the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, requesting that they agree a time-frame for a general election, with a view to both leaders meeting in the new year.

However, he said he will need assurances from the Fianna Fáil leader that if an agreement is reached, all Fianna Fáil TDs are on board with it.

"Internally there are members of Fianna Fáil who have said they won't support this approach and will vote against the Government in any future confidence motion so I would need the assurance from Micheál Martin that [he] actually has the support of his party for this and if he is going to have dissidents in his party that go against the whip that he will be able to provide people who counterbalance perhaps that by voting with us on motions rather than abstaining," he said.

"If I come to an agreement on extending Confidence and Supply to April or May, I am confident that I will have unanimous support from my parliamentary party for that.

"Given what has been said by John McGuinness - and there may be others - [it] is reasonable to say that we don't know that Fianna Fáil is united behind their leader on that issue and we will need to know that.

"There is no point coming to an agreement with Fianna Fáil only to find that there is a breakdown within Fianna Fáil and they cannot honour their side on that," he said.

Mr Varadkar also said he does not agree to the proposal by Mr Martin for an "orderly wind down" of the Dáil. 

"I don't believe a government should ever be wound down or the Dáil should ever be wound down. Our country has lots of challenges and lots of problems and we should always be busy and focused on dealing with those problems. That applies to the Dáil and that applies to the Government as well.

"What I don't want to see is a three or four month election campaign and the Dáil and the Government effectively focusing on that rather than focusing on the business of Government and the problems that people face in their everyday lives.

"I'd be concerned at any idea we'd be winding down a government or a Dáil. What we should do is agree an ambitious agenda for those three or four months, agree legislation that we are going to get through, agree policies we are going to implement, so that we are all focused on that and not looking towards the ballot boxes," he said.