All eyes on May's Cabinet meeting for Brexit breakthrough

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire also seemed to play down talk that a deal was done, telling the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that resolving the Irish border "remains our focus and attention in getting that deal".

According to The Daily Telegraph, the Brexit secretary "stunned" Irish officials with the suggestion.

Theresa May is expected to put pressure on ministers to agree to a different solution to the Irish backstop which she discussed with Leo Varadkar in an unscheduled phone call on Monday.

However, Brussels is refusing to agree to an end date or mechanism that would allow the United Kingdom to pull out of the arrangement, meaning that an agreement is unlikely to be reached this week. That would include Northern Ireland, as the bloc has insisted.

The rapid pace of the negotiations requires the British government to adopt a "war cabinet" approach.

If he does, other senior ministers anxious about her proposals will also get behind the deal, a person familiar with the matter said.

Under the banner headline "May's Secret Brexit Deal", the newspaper said she's also on course to gain an agreement on a "future economic partnership" that will allow Britain to keep open the prospect of a similar free-trade accord to the one Canada has with the EU.

The leader of the Best for Britain campaign for a second referendum, Eloise Todd, said: "When the history of Brexit is written in a few years' time the backstop and the UK's decisions around it will be held up as an example of how not to negotiate".

But Downing Street has reportedly dismissed the report as "speculation".

'The Irish stance is still the same and clear to say that an emergency time-bound plan or one that could be unilaterally completed by the United Kingdom will never be agreed upon by the country or the European Union, ' said Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on Twitter.

The key idea would be that Great Britain and Northern Ireland would remain a single customs territory under World Trade Organization rules, linked in a customs union with Ireland and the rest of the EU, diplomats told Reuters.

The former Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, an active supporter of Britain remaining in the European Union, urged all MPs Sunday to vote down whatever Brexit deal May presents to parliament, and should instead push for another referendum.

Speaking at a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in Dublin, Mr Coveney said he believed "it is possible to get a deal in November", adding: "This border issue is complicated to resolve. but I think we're very close to resolving it".

The talks could extend into December, but Theresa May would rather avoid this scenario as it would ensure that there would be no chance of securing the parliamentary vote over or before Christmas.

  • Rogelio Becker