Financial Times reports: UK PM Theresa May says Brexit deal is close

Boris Johnson says 'now is the time to chuck Chequers'

"Nearly two and a half years on from the (EU membership) referendum, we are, both on the European Union deal and on other post-Brexit trade deals, still lost in campaign mode on fantasy island", Rogers said in a highly critical speech Wednesday in Cambridge.

But Theresa May hopes to convince sceptical ministers, several of whom expressed concern about the idea at an informal meeting in No 10 on Thursday, that the backstop will never need to be invoked.

With the negotiations coming to a head, the central focus of the discussions is thought to have been the issue of the Northern Ireland "backstop" meant to ensure there is not return of a "hard border" with the Republic.

Speaking to Northern Ireland journalists at her Downing Street office, May said on Thursday that talks on the Irish backstop were likely to continue until November.

And Westminster is rife with rumours that foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, environment secretary Michael Gove and trade secretary Liam Fox are also prepared to turn their backs on the PM.

Media captionHelen Grant on the DUP: "I think they are bluffing".

The DUP has threatened to withdraw its support for the government if it is not happy with the final Brexit deal.

He told the BBC's Political Thinking podcast: "Their behaviour was pretty intolerable, but not almost as intolerable as the way the present prime minister is being treated".

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The prime minister's spokeswoman told journalists on Friday morning: "The prime minister would never agree to a deal which would trap the United Kingdom in a backstop permanently".

A particular source of contention is what the "backstop", the fallback option for border arrangements in the event the two sides can not reach an agreement by the end of the transition period, will look like.

Then, the bad. The DUP are threatening to vote down the budget if May signs up to a compromise they don't like.

The prominent Brexiteer said that at least 40 MPs would vote down Theresa May's deal, even after "every possible technique" is used by the Government to persuade or force MPs to toe the party line.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major, meanwhile, has said he has "great sympathy" for Mrs May, telling the BBC's Political Thinking podcast that "the way she's being treated by some of her colleagues is absolutely outrageous".

Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey are said to be opposed to the plan.

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