Varadkar says he will "examine any text" put forward on the border issue

A Brexit committee has heard of "deeply damage" consequences to the UK

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as he made a statement on phase one of the Brexit negotiations in Government Buildings, Dublin | Image: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

7:59 7 Dec 2017 Newstalk 07:59 Thursday 7 December 2017

Efforts to break the logjam in the Brexit talks are set to intensify, as British negotiators work on a new form of words to deal with the border issue.

The original wording was vetoed by the DUP, which is propping up British Prime Mininster Theresa May's minority government.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says he is open to anything that ensures there is no hard border on the island of Ireland.

"I agreed to examine any text that they would put forward in a positive light, understanding that it is in our interest as country to move to phase two.

"That's when we talk about transition and trade an aviation - and all of those things that are so important to Ireland".

It comes as Britain's House of Lords has said that a no-deal Brexit would "deeply damage" the UK, impacting not only the economy, but also aviation, counter terrorism and nuclear safety.

The report said it is "difficult, if not impossible, to envisage a worse outcome for the UK" than a no-deal scenario.

Its EU Committee went on to warn that there would be a "grave" impact on trade in goods, UK ports would find themselves "overwhelmed" and Irish land borders would be introduced.

Peers also called the March 2019 departure date "impossible", and said enshrining it into domestic law would "not be in the national interest".

Despite such reports, Mrs May has insisted that Brexit negotiations are on course and that "good progress has been made".

Possible extension

Mrs May spoke with Mr Varadkar, who warned her that there is no guarantee that Northern Ireland negotiations will be wrapped up before the new year.

She also spoke with DUP leader Arlene Foster ahead of Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.

After the DUP refused to sign a divorce deal on Monday, Mrs May had been hoping to make a new offer to satisfy both Ireland and the DUP by the end of this week.

While the UK's Brexit Secretary David Davies admitted that despite previous assurances, the government there has not carried out any impact assessments on how the EU pull-out would affect the UK economy.

The British Chancellor Philip Hammond also came under fire, after revealing that the cabinet had not yet discussed details of the UK's preferred long-term relationship with the EU.

Mrs May will be hoping to be able to show there has been "sufficient progress" in the Brexit negotiations ahead of next week's EU summit so talks can move on to a trade deal with the remaining 27 EU member states.

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