THE EU has sparked anger by demanding more concessions from Boris Johnson if they are to agree to a new Brexit deal this week.
However staunch Brexiteers have insisted “enough is enough” and said Britain should not cave in to anymore EU demands.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has said a “lot of work remains to be done”.
He is understood to have told David Frost, the prime minister’s chief negotiator, that Mr Johnson will have to give further ground on a customs agreement for Northern Ireland.
A reported attempt by Mr Johnson to revive a compromise proposal by Theresa May for a “customs partnership” between Northern Ireland and the EU was said to have run into opposition from both Brussels and Boris’s allies in the DUP.
The EU is pushing for a model closer to the original Northern Ireland backstop, in which the province effectively remained inside the EU’s customs union.
One EU source told the Times: “It is possible to conclude a deal but that depends on the UK. We can work quickly”.
Time is rapidly running out if there is to be an agreement to put to EU leaders to sign off on at their two-day summit starting on Thursday.
‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’
However ex cabinet minister Owen Paterson told the Daily Telegraph: “They keep chiselling for more concessions that dilute what appears to be a very generous offer for them.
“The point comes when you have to say enough is enough.”
One Cabinet minster hit out at the EU for wanting more concessions, saying it could prevent Mr Johnson getting any deal through the House of Commons.
Mrs May failed three times to get her Withdrawal Deal passed in the Commons.
Earlier Jacob Rees-Mogg appeared to be softening up Brexiteers for possible concessions, warning that some compromise was “inevitable” in the closing stages of any negotiation.
The Leader of the Commons – who was a thorn in the side of Mrs May over Brexit – said they could “trust” the Prime Minister not to give too much ground.
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On Sunday Mr Johnson told senior ministers that while a “pathway” to a deal could still be seen, there was “still a significant amount of work to get there”.
In a Cabinet conference call, he said that they still had to be prepared to leave without a deal on October 31.
The more downbeat mood was in contrast to the burst of optimism which followed Mr Johnson’s meeting last week with Irish premier Leo Varadkar on the Wirral.
If Mr Johnson cannot get an agreement by the weekend, he will come under intense pressure to seek a further Brexit delay – something he has vowed not to do.
Labour, however, has warned that if necessary it will take action through the courts to force him to comply with the Benn Act, which requires the Government to request an extension.
Either way, the stage is set for a major Commons showdown when the Prime Minister returns to Westminster for an emergency Saturday sitting of Parliament, the first in 37 years.
If Mr Johnson cannot get a deal, he is widely expected to blame MPs for cutting the ground from under him, paving the way for a “people versus Parliament” general election.