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Angela Merkel delivered a Brexit boost to Boris Johnson today as she said ditching the backstop was possible if the UK can come forward with practical and workable alternatives within the next 30 days as she also insisted Germany is ready for a No Deal split.
The German Chancellor said if the UK could solve the 'conundrum' of the Irish border protocol then she would be willing to listen to the proposals.
Mr Johnson welcomed the 'blistering timetable' as he said he agreed the 'onus is on us to produce those solutions' as he suggested the previous government led by Theresa May had failed to adequately set out alternatives.
The comments came as the pair met for the first time in Berlin for a working dinner this evening when Mr Johnson is expected to make clear that he is serious about taking the UK out of the EU by the current October 31 deadline with or without a deal.
He is due to travel to Paris for a lunchtime meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron tomorrow as he attempts to persuade European leaders to renegotiate the terms of Britain's divorce from the bloc - something they have so far refused to do.
Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson talk as they stand on a balcony prior to a dinner as part of a meeting at the Chancellery
The pair of leaders were seen chatting animatedly an the balcony prior to the formal dinner in Berlin this evening
After you, no, after you: The PM and the Chancellor were the very image of courtesy this evening on the red carpet in Berlin
Some of Boris's handwritten notes were visible as he tucked his cards back into his breast pocket - including the word DEAL (ringed) in block capitals
Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson seemed to enjoy a healthy interpersonal relationship in Berlin today, smiling and talking animatedly. Right: The PM's speech cards showed the word DEAL in block caps
Berlin, Paris and Brussels had all earlier today preemptively ruled out shifting on the key issue of the backstop which Mr Johnson has insisted must be deleted for a deal to be done.
Allies of Ms Merkel said overnight that scrapping it would be 'completely impossible' while a French presidential aide said today Mr Macron was now working off the belief that No Deal is the 'most likely' scenario.
Meanwhile, Dublin said it would not be 'steam-rolled' over the Irish border protocol.
Downing Street had cautioned against the idea that talks with Ms Merkel and Mr Macron would lead to a big breakthrough.
But Ms Merkel's admission that she is willing to listen to backstop alternatives will have delighted Downing Street because her comments suggest there could yet be movement on the issue which could unlock the path to a deal.
However, despite a likely fresh sense of optimism in Number 10, an agreement between Britain and the EU still appears a long way off.
Brussels will be deeply sceptical that the UK will be able to come up with alternatives to the backstop which are strong enough to ditch the insurance policy which was designed to ensure there is not a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event no agreement is reached on future trading terms.
Separately, this afternoon Jeremy Corbyn invited opposition leaders and Tory Remainer rebels to meet on August 27 to discuss 'all tactics available to prevent No Deal'.
The two leaders sat for photos on a raised red plinth after the Prime Minister's red carpet reception in Berlin this afternoon
Mrs Merkel offered a lifeline to Boris Johnson today saying it might be possible to resolve the backstop question in 30 days
Boris Johnson was greeted by Angela Merkel in Berlin this afternoon as he arrived in Germany for showdown Brexit talks
Mr Johnson was welcomed to the German capital with full military honours as he and Ms Merkel inspected a guard of honour outside the Chancellery building in Berlin
The two leaders addressed the media before a working dinner at which Mr Johnson was expected to stress he is serious about leaving the EU with or without a deal on October 31
Ms Merkel delivered a Brexit boost to the British Prime Minister when she invited the UK to come forward with alternatives to the backstop
After Mr Johnson's arrival in Berlin, the two leaders delivered statements to the press and then took questions as Ms Merkel hinted at a potential way towards a Brexit resolution.
She said the backstop had always been a 'fallback position' and would only come into effect if no other solution could be agreed that would protect the 'integrity of the single market'.
But she then added: 'If one is able to solve this conundrum, if one finds this solution, we said we would probably find it in the next two years to come but we can also maybe find it in the next 30 days to come.
'Then we are one step further in the right direction and we have to obviously put our all into this.'
Mr Johnson said the 'onus is on us' to produce solutions for the Northern Irish border issue and he welcomed the 'blistering timetable of 30 days' proposed by Ms Merkel in which to come up with the answers.
He added: 'I think what we need to do is remove it whole and entire - the backstop - and then work, as Chancellor Merkel says, on the alternative arrangements.
'There are abundant solutions which are proffered, which have already been discussed. I don't think, to be fair, they have so far been very actively proposed over the last three years by the British Government.
'You (Mrs Merkel) rightly say the onus is on us to produce those solutions, those ideas, to show how we can address the issue of the Northern Irish border and that is what we want to do.
'I must say I am very glad listening to you tonight Angela to hear that at least the conversations that matter can now properly begin.
'You have set a very blistering timetable of 30 days - if I understood you correctly, I am more than happy with that.'
Ms Merkel said she wanted to 'continue to have very close relations between the UK and the EU' once Britain has left the bloc and that her preference was for a deal to be done before October 31.
But speaking about the prospect of a No Deal split, she said: 'We are prepared for it.'
Ms Merkel and Mr Johnson enjoyed a drink on the terrace of the Chancellery as the PM undertook his first foreign trip since becoming PM in July
The showdown between Mr Johnson and Ms Merkel is viewed as pivotal as the EU and UK try to avoid a No Deal split on Halloween
Mr Johnson said his preference was for the UK to leave the EU with a deal - something he appeared to have emphasised in his notes as he had written DEAL in capital letters
Mr Johnson had used his opening remarks to initially try to charm Ms Merkel as he said it was 'obvious' that his first foreign trip as PM should be to Germany.
But he then struck a tough tone as he said he wanted to be 'absolutely clear' about what needed to happen to allow the UK and EU to strike an agreement.
He said: 'We in the UK want a deal. We seek a deal and I believe we can get one.
'But clearly we cannot accept the current Withdrawal Agreement, arrangements that either divide the UK or lock us into the regulatory and trading arrangements of the EU without the UK having any say on those matters.
'We do need that backstop removed. If we can do that I am absolutely certain we can move forward together.'
Despite Ms Merkel's comments on the backstop she insisted that it would still be for the EU as a bloc to negotiate the way forward from a 'uniform, consistent position'.
Mr Johnson's boost in Berlin came as Mr Corbyn made a fresh move to try to stitch together an anti-No Deal coalition in the House of Commons.
The Labour leader this afternoon wrote to senior MPs from all parties to invite them to sit down with him on Tuesday next week.
He said in the letter: 'The chaos and dislocation of Boris Johnson’s No Deal Brexit is real and threatening, as the government’s leaked Operation Yellowhammer dossier makes crystal clear. That’s why we must do everything we can to stop it.'
Mr Johnson's meeting with Ms Merkel is the first leg in a two leg European tour which will see him head to Paris tomorrow for talks with Emmanuel Macron
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Mr Johnson told Ms Merkel during their statements to the press that if the backstop can be scrapped 'I am absolutely certain we can move forward together'
A French presidential aide had earlier rejected Mr Johnson's demand that the backstop be axed and contradicted the PM's claim that if Britain leaves the EU without a deal it would not have to pay a £39 billion divorce bill.
'The scenario that is becoming the