European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had a "friendly" telephone conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May on her Brexit plans, a spokeswoman for the EU executive has said.

"They agreed to stay in touch next week," the spokeswoman added, without elaborating.

Mrs May is stepping up her push to secure concessions from Brussels to help get her Brexit deal through parliament.

The BBC has reported that Mrs May was due to speak to Mr Juncker by phone.

She has also spoken to Germany's Angela Merkel twice in recent weeks ahead of a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal later this month.

Mr May's office declined to comment on any specific discussions, but said the prime minister was speaking to several European leaders to secure further reassurances ahead of the vote.

Backstop a 'con trick', says DUP's Wilson

The DUP's Brexit spokesman has said "there's not" any way in which his party can support Mrs May's Brexit deal.

Sammy Wilson's comments come after the party’s deputy leader Nigel Dodds insisted his party's opposition to Irish border backstop proposals had not lessened after a meeting with Mrs May yesterday.

"In fact we're more alarmed about what is coming out from the EU and especially the Irish Government,"  Mr Wilson said when asked if he was reassured by signals from Brussels.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said the Irish backstop was a "con trick" and added that farmers and businesses should be totally relaxed about a no-deal Brexit.

He added: "They should be more worried about this deal because this deal is going to keep them tied to EU regulations, it's going to cut them off from the GB market where we send 60% of our exports and it's going to stop us participating in UK trade deals in the future.

"It's not just because of the regulations which Northern Ireland would be subject to with the backstop, but also the fact we would have to treat the rest of the United Kingdom as a third country, we would not participate in any trade deals which the United Kingdom may enter into in the future and we would find that there would be a border down the Irish Sea, which would impede trade with our biggest trading partner, namely GB." 

Meanwhile, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe, said Brexit is full of "unknowns", making it a "vast challenge" for the Irish and European economies.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Miriam O'Callaghan, Mr Donohoe reiterated that there would be no hard border on the island of Ireland.

He said that Ireland has commitments and obligations in relation to how the country protects the integrity of the single market.

In relation to the backstop, Mr Donohoe said that it is something the UK government wanted.

"It's something that offers them the best ability to have low friction trade with the European Union in the future and it is something they have agreed with the European Union and we need to put all of our efforts now into ensuring that an environment is created in which that backstop is passed."