As Brexit talks look to be all but dead in the water, a source close to number ten has leaked that one fundamental problem since he took office has been Boris Johnson’s insistence that there is no such place as Ireland.

The source wishing to remain anonymous said: ‘Advisers tried to tell Boris that Ireland is a real country in its own right and that furthermore Britain has no control over what it says or decides to do. Nevertheless he just will not accept it.’

‘How can a bunch of funny little potato-munching fellows with green suits, silly black hats, clogs and bright orange beards be in a position to tell the UK, by which of course I really mean England, what we can and can’t do,’ Mr Johnson told one aide when shown a photograph of Ireland taken from the International Space Station.

Before adding, ‘Nah, that looks like some kind of mock-up if you ask me. But look here, more to the point, how many World Wars have they won or indeed World Cups for that matter. Everyone knows they’re only a mythical race that only exist in fairy tales or the butt of racist jokes.’

‘Merkel told me on the blower they have a Prime Minister call Lenny Verruca or something. Well that’s obviously a fib because if he is Irish then why isn’t he call Sean or Seamus Murphy like all the rest of them. Eh?’

‘What’s more my boss Mr Trump says that the only real Irish person ever to have lived was in a film called The Quiet Man where he played a cowboy called John Wayne.’