JEAN-Claude Juncker has said the EU will insist on border checks if there is a No-Deal Brexit in order to preserve the interests of the remaining members.

The European Commission president yesterday also insisted that Brussels was “in no way responsible” for the consequences of a No-Deal Brexit, saying the blame would lay squarely with the UK.

Boris Johnson has demanded that the backstop – a contingency plan to prevent a hard border by keeping the UK aligned with many of Brussels’ rules – should be scrapped.

In recent days there has been talk that the original backstop – first proposed by the EU – to keep Northern Ireland in the single market and customs union could return as part of a renegotiated deal.

Juncker told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “We have to make sure that there will be no hard and physical border between the two parts of the Irish island and things have to be done on a level playing field.

“If these three objectives are met by the alternative arrangements, then we don’t need the backstop.

“The backstop was never an instrument having been put in place for whatever will happen. No, it was put in place in order to preserve the rights of the internal market and of the island of Ireland.”

But in the event of a No-Deal Brexit, Juncker said there would have to be checks.

He added: “I’m not an architect of new border stations. The British have to tell us exactly the architectural nature of this border.

“I don’t like a border because after the Good Friday Agreement, and this Good Friday Agreement has to be respected in all its parts, the situation in Ireland has improved. We should not play with this.”

He said: “We have to make sure that the interests of the European Union and of the internal market will be preserved.

“An animal entering Northern Ireland without border control can enter, without any kind of control, the European Union via the southern part of the Irish island. This will not happen. We have to preserve the health and the safety of our citizens.”

He said the EU “is in no way responsible for any kind of consequences entailed by the Brexit” as “that’s a British decision”.

Juncker also criticised former PM David Cameron over the build-up to the 2016 EU referendum, claiming he failed to explain the agreement reached with Brussels.

Meanwhile, Johnson will today arrive at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations summit in New York where, despite an official focus on subjects including the environment and Iran, Brexit seems likely to dominate his agenda.

He is to holds talks with Donald Tusk, the European Council president as well as having joint discussions with Emmanuel Macron of France, Germany’s Angela Merkel, and a meeting with Ireland’s Leo Varadkar.

It comes against the backdrop of an Irish government warning the time to reach a deal is “shrinking”.