No-deal Brexit a very real possibility, warns Ireland's deputy premier

French President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at the Elysee Palace in Paris

In a speech alongside Emmanuel Macron, the President of France in Paris, the Irish PM said that there was still enough time for PM May to present some "credible" solutions.

Before travelling to Paris, Mr Varadkar said his meetings with the French and German leaders demonstrate the 'strong and unwavering European Union solidarity with Ireland in relation to Brexit'.

He added that France was "open" to a lengthy extension of the Brexit deadline on certain conditions, but that it was "neither a certainty nor automatic".

The comments underline growing frustration in Paris about the Brexit process, which has diverted attention away from pro-European Macron's plans for reinforcing the bloc.

"There is still time for the prime minister to come to the European Council with proposals, proposals that are credible and have a clear pathway to success", said Varadkar.

The meeting between Mr Macron and Mr Varadkar was billed as an opportunity for them to exchange views on Brexit, and the French leader said: "We will never abandon Ireland and the Irish, whatever happens, because that solidarity is the very meaning of the European project".

The DUP and some Brexiteer MPs oppose it because if it took effect, it would keep Northern Ireland only tied to some EU regulatory rules, and would keep the whole of the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU.

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"We are preparing for all outcomes, and have prepared intensively for a No Deal".

Mr Varadkar said that any request from the United Kingdom for an extension to the Brexit process would have to have a objective and one would have conditions attached.

But Ireland has been steadfast in refusing any reintroduction of a physical border, which was removed as part of a peace agreement reached in 1998 to end decades of conflict on the island. The bulk of Irish exports to the continental European Union are shipped via the UK.

A no-deal scenario raises the question of how Ireland would retain seamless cross-border trade with British-governed Northern Ireland, with the frontier between the two becoming the only land border between Britain and the EU's single market.

He said that his government was now in talks with the European Commission regarding the ways on how to achieve both of these objectives.

"We'll need to talk about what we will do in the event of a no deal, which will be particularly hard for Ireland, and from our point of view, we'll want to pursue our twin objectives, to protect the Good Friday Agreement on which peace in Northern Ireland is based, and protect the integrity of the single market and customs union, (on) which Ireland's economic model has been based for decades".

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