Boris Johnson: It's time to 'up the tempo' in Brexit talks in search for last-minute deal
Brexit talks between UK and EU negotiators are to intensify as both sides seek a breakthrough in the search for a last-minute deal.
Boris Johnson said it was time to "step up the tempo" just two months before the UK is set to leave the bloc on 31 October.
Downing Street said senior aides from both sides will meet twice a week throughout September, with the possibility of additional meetings, in the hope of reaching a new agreement.
Earlier this week, Number 10 sources claimed there had been a shift in attitude on the EU side, raising hopes that the existing deal could be re-negotiated and the Irish backstop removed.
However, government sources have also admitted that both sides "remain some distance apart" as the clock ticks down towards the Hallowe'en deadline.
The Prime Minister said: "I have said right from my first day in office that we are ready to work in an energetic and determined way to get a deal done.
"While I have been encouraged with my discussions with EU leaders over recent weeks that there is a willingness to talk about alternatives to the anti-democratic backstop, it is now time for both sides to step up the tempo.
"The increase in meetings and discussions is necessary if are to have a chance of agreeing a deal for when we leave on October 31st, no ifs no buts."
His comments come against the backdrop of a bitter row over the PM's decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks from the middle of next month.
Mr Johnson said the move is necessary ahead of a Queen's Speech on 14 Ooctber setting out the Government's legislative plans.
But opponents have accused him of trying to limit the time available for MPs to pass legislation preventing a no-deal Brexit.
It has emerged that they have drawn up plans to force Parliament to set next weekend as a way of getting round the prorogation.