Has Theresa May secured a breakthrough to seal a Brexit deal?

Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

In a public message to Mr Varadkar, Ms McDonald warned the backstop "cannot be diluted".

The EU has proposed a backstop that would mean Northern Ireland staying in the EU customs union, large parts of the single market and the EU VAT system.

Downing Street has called the reports speculation, but also claim that the majority of the UK's Brexit plan had already been agreed.

British Prime Minister Theresa May raised the possibility of a review mechanism for the backstop in a phone call on Monday with Varadkar that she had sought to update him on the current state of the talks, the Irish government said in a statement.

She wants a way of bringing it to an end.

But ministers are now insisting that the backstop agreement must contain a mechanism for the United Kingdom to terminate the backstop without the agreement of the EU.

There would be an "exit clause" from the customs union in a bid to convince Brexiteers that it is not a permanent arrangement as May looks to secure votes to get the deal through Parliament, added the paper.

Theresa May has secured concessions from Brussels that will let her keep all of Britain in a customs union with the European Union to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland, the Sunday Times reported, without saying where it obtained the information.

And it will include an "exit clause" to avoid suspicion that Britain will forever be tied to European Union rules, allowing the Government to forge a future free trade deal like that enjoyed by Canada.

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Writing in the Sun, Mr Johnson said such a format would be "a Christmas present of the finest old Brussels fudge" meaning Britain getting "absolutely nothing in return" for an "absolutely amazing" £39 billion divorce payment.

Writing in the Sun, Mr Johnson said Brussels would always use the prospect of a hard border in Ireland to keep the United Kingdom "forever" in its orbit. "We need to stop before it is too late".

"In March the United Kingdom agreed this backstop will apply "unless and until" a close future relationship eliminates any need for border infrastructure or related checks and controls".

It has so far suggested a backstop that would see the United Kingdom as a whole remaining aligned with the EU customs union, possibly for a limited time.

"We continue to make good progress in the negotiations but there is work still to do", the prime minister's official spokesman said.

"In classic Brussels style, at the 11th hour there will be a deal, I've no doubt about that".

It said Mr Raab made the proposal to Mr Coveney in London last week.

"This has been committed to by the United Kingdom in order to have a Withdrawal Agreement".

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".

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