LEO Varadkar has warned Boris Johnson that “no backstop is no-deal for us” as the Irish Prime Minister revealed he had yet to see the UK Government’s detailed alternative proposals.

During the first meeting at the Government Buildings in Dublin, the Prime Minister was far more emphatic about getting a deal with the EU27 and saying it would be a “failure of statecraft” for everyone involved if Britain crashed out of the EU without a deal.

The Taoiseach stressed how Ireland wanted to be Britain’s friend and ally in securing its smooth and orderly withdrawal from the Brussels bloc but he was adamant on the key stumbling block from Britain’s perspective – the backstop – that while Dublin was ready to listen, “what we will not do is replace a legal guarantee with a promise”.

"So the stakes are high,” declared Mr Varadkar, noting how “avoiding a return to a hard border is the priority of this government”.

He stressed: “We are open to all alternatives legally workable but we have not received such to date.”

Mr Johnson, who has been keen to stress that he will not negotiate in public, said of the so-called alternative arrangements: “Whether it's electronic pre-clearance or concept of the unity of island for agri-foods, and other ideas we'll bring forward to address the full range.

"I don't underestimate the technical problems but I do think there is a way through," he insisted.

No 10, when asked about if a return to direct rule from London was being considered as part of the no-deal preparations, said the future of decision-making in Northern Ireland, which local politicians were best-placed to carry out, would be “kept under review as part of the Government’s Brexit preparations”.

But the Taoiseach made clear any return to politicians in London running the affairs of Northern Ireland would be anathema to Dublin. Direct rule, he pointed out would be "contrary to the St Andrews agreement," noting: “We want to see east-west institutions used to full effect to give us an opportunity to have a consultative role in any big decision in Northern Ireland."

Mr Johnson, who across the Irish Sea, has placed the emphasis on preparing for a no-deal, stressed in the Irish capital his desire to get an agreement with the EU27.

"I want to find a deal. I have looked carefully at no-deal. Yes, we could do it; the UK could certainly get through it. But be in no doubt that outcome would be a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible.

"I would overwhelmingly prefer to find an agreement. I do believe that a deal can be done by October 18 so let's do it together," added the PM.