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Brexit is “fraying” the relationship between the UK and Ireland and putting peace in Northern Ireland at risk, Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said.

The Taoiseach said the Good Friday Agreement was being “undermined” by fractious relations between the two countries over how the Northern Irish border should be managed once Britain leaves the EU.

It comes just a day after Theresa May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, travelled to Dublin to hold talks with his Irish counterpart, Simon Coveney, in a bid to improve relations between the two governments.

But speaking within hours of the visit, Mr Varadkar described the relationship between the two countries as “fraying”.

He told Irish broadcaster RTE: “Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement and is fraying the relationship between Britain and Ireland.

“Anything that pulls the communities apart in Northern Ireland undermines the Good Friday Agreement, and anything that pulls Britain and Ireland apart undermines that relationship.”

The warning comes despite Mr Coveney having claimed a deal between the UK and the EU was “very close”.

Mr Varadkar was speaking hours after another senior Irish politician also claimed the return to a hard border would threaten peace in Northern Ireland.

Senator Neale Richmond, who chairs the Brexit committee in the Irish parliament’s upper house, told Radio 4’s Today programme: “When we talk about political goodwill I think it’s very important…why the Irish government and why the European Commission is so firm on an Irish-specific backstop is the preservation of peace.

“It’s the 20-year-old fragile Good Friday Agreement peace, something that the Irish government and indeed the British government is a co-guarantor of, and we must work to ensure that there is no hard border, customs or otherwise, on the island of Ireland, as that is a threat to that Good Friday Agreement. Let’s focus on that first and foremost.” Read more

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