The European Union (EU) is expected to have an advantage in the forthcoming trade talks with the UK after the country's departure from the Union on Friday said Leo Varadkar, Prime Minister of Ireland.

Varadkar, questioned the schedule set by Boris Johnson to receive a trade deal with the EU by the end of the year. He is set to meet Michel Barnier, EU's chief negotiator, in Dublin.

Disagreement with Johnson

"The European Union is a union of 27 member states. The UK is only one country. And we have a population and a market of 450 million people," he told the BBC on Sunday, adding that the EU could take the upper hand in negotiations, citing the two sides' vastly different populations.

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar Wikimedia Commons

"The UK, it's about 60 (million). So if these were two teams up against each other playing football, who do you think has the stronger team?"

He disagreed with Johnson's claim that there are "bags of time" to sign an agreement, warning "it will be difficult to do this". The Prime Minister told the BBC that there might have to be an extension to the next phase of the Brexit process, beyond the end of this year, to finalise a trade deal.

Set to fight the first election as Prime Minister

However, he vowed to work "night and day" to try and get it done, saying: "We won't be dragging our feet." Varadkar, the lead of the Fine Gael party, will fight his first election campaign as Prime Minister when Ireland will heads to the polls on February 8.

The UK is set to leave the EU at 11 pm on Friday, marking an end to the 46 years of the country in the bloc. The UK has agreed to abide by EU rules during a transition period until the end of the year.