Keir Starmer: Labour will prevent no-deal Brexit, 'whatever it takes'

Brexit- Flag of European Union

Brexit- Flag of European Union

Brussels is also concerned that a proposal in the British plan for Northern Ireland to remain tied to European Union single market rules for trade in goods could be vetoed before it had even got off the ground by the Democratic Unionist Party.

"And Boris Johnson knows it very well".

Speaking to reporters, Mr Barnier called for patience, and added: "Brexit is like climbing a mountain".

BREXIT negotiations will now enter the "tunnel" phase of intensive and secretive talks in a major boost for Boris Johnson's prospects of brokering a fresh deal.

European Council President Donald Tusk said Friday he could see the talks in Brussels going through the weekend, ahead of the EU summit, which starts Thursday.

Just two days before Thursday's breakthrough, Johnson's advisors said that brokering a compromise was "essentially impossible" following a hard meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Now Irish media are suggesting that the "pathway to a possible deal" most likely involves concessions from Mr Johnson with regards to the border, and that the UK/EU border will instead be in the Irish Sea, between Ireland and the UK, instead of on the island between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

It comes after an apparent Brexit breakthrough on Thursday when the Prime Minister held crunch talks with his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar.

"I have received promising signals from the Taoiseach that a deal is still possible".

"A no-deal Brexit will never be the choice of the EU", Tusk said, but he also added that "there is no guarantee of success and the time is practically up". While there's no discussion yet of putting a time limit on that arrangement, something the European Union has previously rejected, one European Union official said that it could yet be considered.

Mr Barnier is due to brief European Union ambassadors and MEPs on Monday on progress.

He said the United Kingdom had yet to put forward an "operational, legally binding solution" to replace the Northern Ireland backstop - meant to prevent the return of a hard border with the Republic.

The Prime Minister cautioned it was not a "done deal" and there was still "a way to go" if they were to get an agreement which would enable Britain to leave on October 31, as he has promised.

Leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party Arlene Foster said "anything that traps Northern Ireland in the EU, whether single market or customs union, as the rest of the United Kingdom leaves will not have our support - the prime minister is very mindful of that".

And he is gearing up for a special Saturday sitting of Parliament on October 19 when he is expected to put any Brexit deal to MPs.

If a deal did emerge, Mr Johnson would also need the backing of the DUP and Eurosceptic Tories to have any chance of getting it through without opposition support.