Britain is open-minded about extending the post-Brexit transition period if it means the European Union drops its proposals for the so-called backstop, UK Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has said.

"If we need a bridge from the end of the implementation period to the future relationship ... I am open minded about using a short extension of the implementation period," he said.

"It is an obvious possible route as long as it is short, perhaps a few months, and secondly that we know how we get out of it and obviously it has to solve the backstop issue so that that falls away then as a possibility."

Mr Raab also said he thought a deal needed to be done by the end of November in order to get the legislation through the UK parliament in time.


Brexit: A brief history of the backstop
Brexit stories 

Labour's Brexit minister Keir Starmer said there is a "real lack of confidence" that British Prime Minister Theresa May can bring back "anything by way of a good deal".

He said it was not in the national interest to back a bad deal, adding: "I think we need to ask ourselves the question whether if there's a deal before Christmas that goes through that that's going to survive for very long - this idea they'll be a sort of a settlement, the issue will be over.

"I don't think anybody thinks this 30-year civil war in the Tory party on Europe is going to end before Christmas.

"What we're going to see is even if there's a deal, the Tory party will try to rip it up next year - some of them are already saying they're going to do that - so this idea of an historic moment just before Christmas in the national interest isn't going to happen. They will not stop fighting about this.

"We've got to the very serious situation where people are saying 'Is this Government actually capable of delivering because it's so divided?'."

France's Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau said what was needed was "definitive answers or at least no temporary measures which disappear and we don't know what to do after" over the border.

Pressed about whether a proposed backstop cannot be temporary, she told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show: "We need to have a British answer to what we have proposed - the ball is in London's court and we are waiting. It's about a question of weeks now until we are sure that we can have a good agreement.

"But on the Irish border issue, we agreed together - London and the 27 - that the situation has to be as similar as possible to the current one, meaning no hard border, no controls between Northern and southern Ireland, so there has to be a solution, but you cannot only rely on negotiation about the future relationship."

Ms Loiseau said it is something which needs to be "fixed by London" as the UK took the decision to leave the EU. 

EU is 'full-square' behind Ireland - Humphreys

Meanwhile, speaking in RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, the Business, Enterprise and Innovation minister Heather Humphreys said EU leaders have been consistently clear there will be no withdrawal agreement for the UK without an operational and a legally binding backstop.

She said the EU is full-square behind Ireland and a lot of work is going on.

Speaking on the same programme Fianna Fail’s Brexit Spokesperson Lisa Chambers said things are as bleak as they can get.

She said no solution can deliver on the demands of the Ireland, the UK and the EU. She said talks are at a crucial delicate stage and someone will have to move, but she did not know if that could come from the UK.

Sinn Féin’s Brexit Spokesperson David Cullinane said he could not understand why Arlene Foster and the DUP are not accepting a deal that would mean free trade north and south, free trade east and west and free trade with the EU. 

He said we cannot afford to see any hardening of the border or threat to the Good Friday Agreement.

Additional Reporting PA