The Cabinet has been briefed on what is being termed as a comprehensive overview on the country's Brexit preparations.

It is understood the analysis covers contingency planning for both a trade agreement being reached between the EU and UK, as well as a no-deal scenario.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the stakes are really high and "what we are doing as a Government is making sure that we are fully prepared for all scenarios".

In London, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, asked whether he was hopeful of a Brexit deal, told reporters: "I'm always hopeful... yes, I am very hopeful, but I've got to be honest with you I think the situation at the moment is very tricky."

"Our friends have to understand the UK has left the EU to exercise democratic control. We are a long way apart still," he added.

"It is looking very difficult at the moment. We will do our level best. I would say to everybody there's great options ahead for our country."

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath, speaking on his way into Cabinet, said he is still hopeful a post-Brexit trade deal can be reached saying where "there's a will there's a way".

Mr McGrath said he thinks that it is a positive that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Mr Johnson are to meet later this week.

"We all know what the economic consequences are of no-trade deal.

"For Ireland alone we are looking at potentially tariffs of up to €1.7 billion on our exports to the UK, with over 90% of that falling on the agri food sector. So the stakes are really high," Mr McGrath said.

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It is understood that among the measures was a plan to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines come to Ireland directly via EU ports, rather than through the UK land-bridge, in order to guarantee delivery.

In the past month, there has been a further increase in the number of Irish businesses signing-up for required certification to trade with the UK, post-Brexit.

The latest data suggested 97% of exporters and 94% of importers now have an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number.

Meanwhile, a French MEP and member of President Emmanuel Macron's La Republique En Marche party has said that "it is better to postpone the [Brexit] deal rather than have a bad deal".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Sandro Gozi that while a deal is still possible it is "more and more difficult" as "the positions on both sides are pretty far apart" on the outstanding issues.

Mr Gozi said that fisheries is not only a French problem and "it is not something new" that not enough progress has been made on this issue.

Asked if France would veto a deal it did not like on fisheries, he said "let's see if it is a good deal, we all want  a good deal [but] it must be improved on fisheries, but also on the single market".

Speaking on the same programme, a spokesperson for former British prime minister Theresa May said nerves will be tested to the utmost over the coming days.

Joey Jones said if Mr Johnson cannot bring himself to accept the trade-off between access to the single market and some level of control on standards, then a no deal is "staring us in the face".

However, he added, the logic behind the imperative for a deal is so profound that there remains an assumption that they will "come back from the brink".

Additional reporting AFP