The UK needs to submit its new Brexit deal proposal to the EU by the end of September or it will be “over”, according to Finland’s prime minister.
Antti Rinne said he and French president Emmanuel Macron agreed at a meeting in Paris on Wednesday the UK needs to produce the plans in writing by 30 September.
“If the UK wants to discuss alternatives to the existing Brexit agreement then these must be presented before the end of the month,” he told Finnish reporters.
“If not by then, then it’s over.”
Finland currently holds the rotating Council of the EU presidency, meaning it sets the daily agenda.
The other 25 EU leaders will have to agree to the French and Finnish leaders’ request before it is set in stone.
If they agree, then the deadline of 17 October – the EU leaders’ summit – Boris Johnson has been working towards will be more than halved.
Mr Rinne said he and Mr Macron agreed on 30 September because the EU needs time to get to grips with the plan ahead of the summit.
Despite parliament passing a law to block the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October, the prime minister is sticking with his guns and insisting Brexit will happen on that day – with or without a deal.
A Downing Street source said: “We will continue negotiating and put forward proposals at the appropriate time.”
At the same time Mr Macron and Mr Rinne were meeting, Mr Johnson held talks over the phone with other European leaders, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
A Number 10 spokeswoman said the pair had a “shared determination to reach a deal” and spoke about the “constructive conversation” they had in Luxembourg on Monday.
Since Mr Johnson took office in July the UK is understood to have put forward written ideas to end the Brexit impasse, but have taken the papers back at the end of meetings so the UK remains in control.
A government source said it was “the nature of the Brussels system” that any documents shared with the bloc would also be sent to EU member states.
“Once you share it with 27 countries you are not in control of the document,” the source told the Press Association.
One of the main issues continues to be the Irish backstop – an insurance policy in the withdrawal agreement designed to avoid the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland.
London has produced a version of the withdrawal agreement – the deal negotiated by Theresa May and rejected three times by MPs – with the backstop removed to show the EU what sort of changes the PM wants.
The UK has also shown the bloc some of its proposals to replace the backstop
Mr Johnson wants to scrap the arrangement, which is opposed by many Conservatives and Northern Ireland’s DUP.
On Wednesday DUP leader Arlene Foster and Irish premier Leo Varadkar met in Dublin after she addressed the Dublin Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
A party spokesman said: “They discussed Brexit and the need for the restoration of devolution.”