Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said the Government would like to inject some fresh thinking in Brexit negotiations, but ultimately it was up to the UK government to come up with new proposals.

Speaking before this morning's Cabinet meeting, Mr Coveney said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar sought to explore areas of common ground when he met UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but there remains a considerable gap between the UK and the EU.

Mr Coveney said the negotiations were between the EU and the UK, adding there was nothing new in the DUP ruling out a Northern Ireland-only backstop.

Asked if he believed a deal was still possible before the end of October, Mr Coveney said anything was possible, but it was prudent to prepare for no-deal Brexit.

He said that will be focus of the Cabinet meeting as it prepares for the upcoming Budget.


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DUP leader Arlene Foster said her party was working with Mr Johnson to find a deal that sees Northern Ireland leave the EU with the rest of the UK.

Ms Foster and DUP parliamentary leader Nigel Dodds both met Mr Johnson in Downing Street last night.

She welcomed comments from Ireland's EU Commissioner Phil Hogan that pragmatic solutions could be introduced into the Brexit debate at the final hour.

Ms Foster said a Northern Ireland-only backstop would mean one part of the UK would be left in the customs union and subject to the rules of the single market without any consent.

Elsewhere, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was still every chance for a Brexit deal, although Berlin was prepared for a disorderly Brexit in case that does not happen.

"We still have every chance of getting an orderly (Brexit) and the German government will do everything it can to make that possible - right up to the last day. But I also say we are prepared for a disorderly Brexit," Ms Merkel told the German parliament.

"But the fact remains that after the withdrawal of Britain, we have an economic competitor at our door, even if we want to keep close economic, foreign and security cooperation and friendly relations," she added.

However, in Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told his parliament that "a hard Brexit, without an agreement, has become the most likely scenario".

Mr Sanchez said the EU should not make any further concessions to Britain.

"European institutions and member states have acted with flexibility and good faith since the beginning...but making it clear from the outset that it is not possible to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement that has already been signed with the British government," he said.

Additional reporting Colman O'Sullivan