Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay has said progress is being made on securing a deal with Brussels, insisting there is a “landing zone” in sight.
Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Barclay hinted a compromise agreement could be reached that would see Northern Ireland remain more closely tied to the EU than the rest of the UK.
It came after Boris Johnson claimed Britain would break out of EU like The Incredible Hulk.
The prime minister is due to meet European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Luxembourg this week.
However Downing Street has cautioned that Monday’s meetings will not be a “big breakthrough” moment.
Barclay said today: “There has been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes.
“We can see a landing zone in terms of a future deal but there is significant work still to do.”
Asked if the government would be willing to see divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, Barclay suggested it would be as long as the people of Northern Ireland agreed.
“It is important we move forwards with the consent of both sides of the community in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“That’s very much part of the thinking and part of the consultations that we’re having.”
Theresa May had previously dismissed the idea of allowing Northern Ireland to have a separate regulatory regime than Great Britain, as she argued it would create an internal border within the UK and lead to the break up of the country.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, also said this morning the UK had to “leave with a deal” at the end of October.
The home secretary told the BBC it was “not quite true” to suggest that the government would propose a similar deal to May’s beleaguered agreement.