Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has suggested the UK could end up with a "Norway-plus" Brexit deal, but he has warned the UK cannot cherry-pick EU benefits without offering something in return.

Varadkar also argued that there is no precedent for the UK's future relationship with the EU, and that a new, bespoke solution would be required.

"I think it will be a specific agreement for the UK," Varadkar told Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "Of course as Ireland we want that to be as close as possible – we would have it 'Norway-plus', but I think we have to get into the detail now of what that means."

As a non-EU member of the European Economic Area, Norway is part of the EU single market, but not of the customs union. Such an approach would represent one of the softest possible Brexits in which the UK would have to accept the free movement of labour, pay into the EU budget and have no say in market rules. This arrangement would allow the UK to make trade deals with non-EU countries.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier previously said that any EU-UK free trade agreement would be similar to the one between the EU and Canada.

The Irish prime minister explained that an exact copy of either arrangement would not be feasible. "It's difficult to compare it to Norway, which is a relatively small country... or a country like Canada, which is on a different continent," he said.

Varadkar also warned that the EU benefits a post-Brexit UK receives will depend on what it is willing to offer. The rights of the financial services in the City of London is a particular point of interest. "The City of London would like access to financial services and financial markets, but what is the UK going to give in return?" Varadkar asked.

The Conservative government has repeatedly stated that the UK will not remain part of the single market or the customs union. The Labour leadership has echoed this stance, though the party has faced a backbench rebellion over the issue.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says Ireland would like the UK to agree a 'Norway-plus' Brexit deal REUTERS/Vincent Kessler