On Wednesday, the BBC reported that Brexit ministers had suggested a plan to meet Brussels' demand for "sufficient progress" on the Irish border issue so that trade talks can begin. The proposal reportedly consisted of a joint "statement of agreed facts" and a special conference in January.
"There was some talk in Whitehall of trying to agree a position which would stress agreement in the first two areas [the divorce bill and citizens' rights] and 'park' the Irish question until early next year," the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said.
However, according to The Times, "Sources at the Brexit department said that the report was wrong, suggesting that the idea of a special conference in January related to attempts to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland."
There is increasing pressure for a breakthrough in Brexit talks prior to an EU summit in mid-December, where heads of state and the EU leaders will discuss whether they are ready to open talks on a future trade deal. Brussels is only willing to start negotiations on trade after it has seen "sufficient progress" in three areas: the Irish border issue, the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and the divorce bill.