'EU countries are secretly wooing Boris Johnson in a bid to thrash out a new Brexit plan that would avoid No Deal, according to reports.
Senior Irish politicians and diplomats have held talks with two of Johnson's cabinet allies in recent days, and German and French figures as well as the Dutch and Belgian governments have also established contact with Johnson's team and signalled an intention to do a deal, it is claimed.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has indicated Dublin is prepared to compromise, the Sunday Times reported.
Johnson has pledged to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal but Coveney said in an article for the paper that EU member Ireland wants to avoid a no-deal exit at all costs.
'If Britain decides to leave without a deal it could cause huge damage to us all,' he wrote. 'A no-deal Brexit would devastate the northern Irish economy.'
The news comes amid Justice Secretary David Gauke's announcement that he will quit the Government on Wednesday if Boris Johnson wins the race to become prime minister - over objections to the Conservative frontrunner's plans to brace for No Deal.
Mr Gauke said that crashing out of the European Union would lead to national 'humiliation'.
Johnson is widely expected to have beaten Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt when the result of a ballot of members of the ruling Conservative Party for their next leader to replace Theresa May is announced on Tuesday.
The news comes amid reports Brussels will offer Mr Johnson a Brexit extension past October 31 in a final bid to strike an agreement deal and to help him keep the Conservative party together.
The extra time in the EU would be used for negotiation but could apparently be sold to Tory Brexiters as a chance to further prepare for a No Deal exit.
'It will be described as a technical delay to save Boris from political embarrassment but then we will have time to find an agreement,' one senior EU diplomat told The Guardian.'
Read more: Five EU countries negotiate with Boris to avoid No Deal Brexit: Leaders 'offer Johnson a new plan' and Irish PM says 'let's avert catastrophe'