A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron earlier today.
“They discussed the shared challenge of illegal small boat crossings from France to the UK. The Prime Minister set out that the UK’s aim is to stop the smuggling operations and prevent boats arriving on our shores, and they agreed to work together in a spirit of co-operation to address the issue.
“The Prime Minister and President Macron expressed their outrage at the attack on Alexei Navalny and reiterated that Russia must urgently explain how the opposition leader was poisoned with novichock.
“They also discussed UK-French co-operation on tackling coronavirus and on other international issues, including the crises in Libya and Lebanon and the Middle East peace process. The Prime Minister offered his condolences for French casualties in Mali this weekend.
“On the negotiations to reach a trade deal with the European Union, the Prime Minister and President Macron agreed on the importance of making progress this month and reaching a conclusion on talks quickly.”
Mr Johnson’s spokesman insisted the Government was not looking to backtrack on previous commitments.
He said: “We are fully committed to implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol and we have already taken many practical steps to do.”
The spokesman said the Prime Minister has made clear the need for significant progress this week when talks on a free trade deal resume in London.
“We can’t be in the same position as we are now by the end of the upcoming negotiating round if we are going to reach an agreement in the time available,” the spokesman said.
“As the PM is setting out today, there needs to be an agreement by the time of the European Council on October 15 if it is going to be in force by the end of the year.
“Reaching a deal at the eleventh hour is not an option.”
This is a breaking story. More to follow…