The UK's Brexit minister Steve Barclay has said that Britain and the European Union "still [have] a long way to go" before reaching a deal over its exit from the bloc.
In an interview following his meeting with EU negotiator Michel Barnier, Barclay said that the Irish backstop — designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit — had to go, but that a deal could be struck with goodwill on both sides.
Britain is due to leave on October 31, but its parliament has passed a law requiring Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for an extension from the EU, should he fail to secure a new deal.
Ireland's foreign minister Simon Coveney, who met EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels on Friday, said the EU was still eager to negotiate but that it had to be on the basis of a "serious proposal" from Britain.
"That hasn't happened yet and until there is a serious proposal in writing... then the gaps that are wide at the moment will remain. And time is running out," Coveney told reporters.
"The onus is on the British prime minister and his team," he said, adding that Ireland was open to extending the Brexit departure date.
"An extension is preferable to no deal," he said.
Johnson has been roundly accused of using dangerous, inflammatory language regarding Brexit, and MPs' unwillingness to allow him to take the UK out of the EU without a deal.
He has repeatedly described the law requiring an extension as a “Surrender Act” and he has charged opposition parties with betrayal for failing to “uphold democracy”.
Despite there being no sign that MPs would agree to Boris Johnson's demands, the PM has maintained the UK will leave on October 31 , "deal or no deal".