Boris Johnson to hold talks with Jean-Claude Juncker as hopes of new Brexit deal rise
Boris Johnson is to hold talks with Jean-Claude Juncker amid fresh hopes that the Prime Minister could agree a new Brexit deal with the EU.
It will be the first time Mr Johnson has met the European Commission president since he became Prime Minister in July.
The pair will meet on Monday in Mr Juncker's home country of Luxembourg.
Mr Johnson will later hold talks with Luxembourg's prime minister, Xavier Bettel.
Downing Street sources were keen to downplay the significance of the meeting with Mr Juncker.
"The PM is working hard to get a deal and we have been putting forward ideas but there is a long way to go," said one.
The talks follow increased speculation that a deal could be reached between the UK and Brussels over the Irish backstop.
According to The Times, the DUP is prepared to water down its red lines on accepting different EU rules to the rest of the UK.
But DUP leader Arlene Foster, who held talks with Mr Johnson in Number 10 earlier this week, rejected the claims.
She tweeted: "UK must leave as one nation. We are keen to see a sensible deal but not one that divides the internal market of the UK. We will not support any arrangements that create a barrier to East West trade. Anonymous sources lead to nonsense stories."
Sammy Wilson, the DUP's Brexit spokesman, added: "We are still totally opposed to any form of a Northern Ireland-only backstop and a border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, which is our main market."
Mr Johnson's meeting with Mr Juncker will come just days after the EU chief claimed the UK had only ever been "part-time Europeans".
He said: "Brexit, from its beginning, has to do with the fact that not a single British government was openly defending and explaining the place of Britain in the European Union.
"If you are telling the people over decades that this is not exactly what we wanted, don’t be surprised if a referendum is answered in a negative way."