Taoiseach: 'We need to up our Brexit preparations' amid political uncertainty in UK

Leo Varadkar was speaking after ministers discussed Brexit contingency plans in a special cabinet meeting today

Taoiseach: 'We need to up our Brexit preparations' amid political uncertainty in UK

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks to the media at Derrynane House, Kerry, following a government cabinet meeting. Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

Leo Varadkar has said the Government needs to 'up our preparations' for Brexit amid continuing political uncertainty in the UK.

The Taoiseach was speaking after a cabinet meeting in Derrynane, Co Kerry, in which ministers discussed Brexit contingency plans.

Over the past two weeks, Theresa May has seen high-profile ministers David Davis and Boris Johnson resign over her cabinet's Brexit proposals.

The British government has also only narrowly managed to win several key Brexit votes in the House of Commons this week.

Speaking after today's meeting, Leo Varadkar said: "With Brexit now eight months away, and growing uncertainty about whether it will be possible to get a withdrawal agreement through Westminster... we do need to change the gear, and up our preparations when it comes to Brexit.

"That's going to involve communicating with the public and with industry what we're doing, and will also mean preparations beginning now in our ports, our airports."

He said customs checks will need to be enhanced in every case, explaining: "We estimate that the number of people we'll have to hire over the course of the next year is about 1,000 people - that's customs and veterinary inspectors to prepare our ports and airports for Brexit."

Tánaiste Simon Coveney earlier insisted that the Government is not preparing for a hard border on the island of Ireland.

He stressed: "What has already been agreed on the Irish border is that Britain has ruled out border infrastructure on the island of Ireland. We have insisted on that also. The EU side has also insisted on it."

Today's talks were held at Derrynane House, the ancestral home of Daniel O'Connell - who was known as 'The Liberator' because of his quest for the rights of Irish people under English occupation.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson today claimed a 'fog of self-doubt has descended' over the British government's Brexit plans - and suggested the Irish border has 'dominated the debate'.

In his resignation speech in the House of Commons, he said there can be 'checks away from the border' and 'technical solutions' to address the issue, but claimed such proposals were 'never even properly examined'.