Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he thinks progress is being made, after Britain submitted written documents to the EU to try to break the Brexit deadlock.
A UK government spokesperson confirmed the “confidential technical non-papers which reflect the ideas the UK has been putting forward” were shared with Brussels.
They added: “We will table formal written solutions when we are ready, not according to an artificial deadline, and when the EU is clear that it will engage constructively on them as a replacement for the backstop.”
It is understood the non-papers, which mean informal proposals used to inform discussions, focus on customs and manufactured goods.
Speaking this afternoon, Mr Johnson said: “I think we are making some progress.”
Technical discussions will now take place between Britain and the EU, with talks between Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier to follow tomorrow.
Earlier, Finland’s prime minister said Britain had until the end of September to reveal its proposals or “it’s over”.
It marks the first moment Britain has shared any written plans for how it plans to get a new Brexit deal with the EU since Boris Johnson took over as prime minister.
The government has been wary of putting anything in writing for fear it will be leaked and rejected by Brussels.
Cabinet minister Grant Shapps told Sky News earlier on Thursday that: “What used to happen with [former prime minister] Theresa May is she would put something in writing, they would then shoot it all down and you’d be back to square one.
“We’re not falling into the trap of playing that game.
“Instead, what is actually actively happening is that discussions are ongoing and those who are involved in those discussions – on both sides – are fully aware of them and there are ways to deal with the backstop.”
The government’s announcement comes on the day the 30-day deadline mooted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for proposals to break the deadlock expired.
She did not say proposals had to be submitted by then, but that if the solutions could be found during the transition period Britain would enter into when it leaves the EU then they could be found in 30 days.
Mr Barclay has laid the groundwork for his trip to Brussels by dismissing the claim Britain must provide “legally operative text” to replace the Irish backstop – the contentious part of the deal – by the end of the transition in December 2020.
He said in a speech in Madrid today: “Great political leaders have always respected the need to take risk.
“Indeed It was [former French president] General De Gaulle, who said ‘a true statesman is one who is willing to take risks’.
“Yet a refusal by the Commission to accept any risk would be a failure of statecraft.
“And put at risk the future relationship of the UK and the EU because of a lack of flexibility, creativity and indeed pragmatism.”
Two Labour politicians from the group “MPs for a deal” – Stephen Kinnock and Caroline Flint – are travelling to Brussels, they say at Mr Barnier’s request, to “discuss the cross-party efforts to secure a Brexit deal” that could be passed in parliament.
Yesterday, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he had “no emotional attachment” to the backstop.