Varakdar: Speed of post-Brexit trade talks ‘impossible to predict’

The speed of post-Brexit trade negotiations is impossible to predict, Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said.

The UK will need to secure a deal to ensure continued access to the EU market after Brexit, and the Taoiseach warned that talks could take more than a year.

He discussed the British EU withdrawal in the Dail parliament in Dublin on Tuesday.

The Fine Gael leader said: “If the new free trade agreement is very close to the status quo it could be negotiated very quickly, but the more and more the UK chooses to diverge from the status quo, the longer it is going to take obviously to negotiate that, because the negotiation is going to be all about the difference.

“It is impossible to predict but I think it would be ambitious to have it done in 2020, but that is what we are going to try to do.”

The Irish border has been one of the key sticking points in the Brexit negotiations.

Unionists in Belfast are opposed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposed Brexit deal with the EU. They believe it would create a regulatory border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

It would involve the region following some of the rules of the EU’s single market to avoid a hard frontier on the island of Ireland but including a new regime for goods crossing the Irish Sea.