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As reported by The Guardian, EU officials are warning that the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May has, at best, even odds of securing an Irish border deal with the European Union.

Key quotes

“The British government has set out its stall to make “decisive progress” on the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop by Friday, in the hope that Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, could then call an extraordinary Brexit summit for the end of the month to seal the deal.

Downing Street has insisted it does not have a deal ready for signoff, in response to reports over the weekend of there being an agreement in the making.

“We are not sitting on powder keg knowledge that we have signed a secret deal,” the No 10 source said. “We are not on the cusp of some seismic shift.”

Some at the highest levels of government fear that, unless progress is agreed by Tuesday when the May sees her senior ministers and parliament breaks for recess, the cabinet may not have a direct input before a summit announcement is made.

“The reality is that we need a November summit more than the EU do,” a government source said. They suggested that a December deal would mean not only a later parliamentary vote but would require spending on no-deal planning and changes to the roles of hundreds of civil service.

There is chance of progress being made in order for an emergency summit to be called on Friday, government insiders believe, suggesting it is possible the cabinet will not be directly involved if it was last-minute. “It is high stakes,” the source said.

EU officials and diplomats cautioned against the optimism expressed by some about the imminence of a breakthrough, describing the chances of striking a deal that meets both sides needs as “50-50″.”