With just 22 days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the bloc, the future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain as both London and Brussels position themselves to avoid blame for a delay or a disorderly no-deal Brexit.
A source from Mr Johnson's Downing Street office said Ms Merkel spoke to the British leader on Tuesday morning and made clear that a deal was "overwhelmingly unlikely". "He emphasized that the UK's proposal represents a significant step and a reasonable compromise which respects the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, the Single Market and provides for democratic consent in Northern Ireland", the spokesperson said. Downing Street reacted by insisting that if that was the bloc's new Brexit position then an agreement was "essentially impossible not just now but ever".
In Berlin, a spokesman for the German government confirmed the two leaders had spoken but said he would not comment on the content of the call.
A frustrated Tusk accused Britain of playing with "the future of Europe and the UK" with no clear plan of what the country wanted.
The EU chief went on: "There are two alternatives to a deal at this juncture: extension or no deal".
Such abrupt remarks indicate the Brexit blame game has begun in earnest, and that now both London and European Union capitals are preparing for an acrimonious and potentially chaotic Brexit for which neither side wants to be held responsible.More news: Unprecedented power shutdown coming as winds bring critical fire danger
The Pound-to-Euro exchange rate is today quoted at 1.11138, but had been as low as 1.1109 during the course of the past 24 hours.
It was said to have been made clear that defence and security co-operation with the European Union would be affected if it tried to keep Britain in against the will of the Government.
"The comments from the German Chancellor that Northern Ireland must remain in the EU customs union for ever reveal the real objective of Dublin and the European Union", she said.
The leader of the small Northern Irish party that supports Mr Johnson's government accused the EU and Ireland of trying to trap the British territory in a permanent Customs union.
And the messages all came from the same place - Downing Street.
The government did not deny the report in the Spectator, which also said Boris Johnson "will do all sorts of things to scupper a delay" to leaving the EU. "You don't want a deal, you don't want an extension, you don't want to revoke, quo vadis?" he asked.More news: Married assistant principal allegedly had sex with student half-dozen times
"This is yet another cynical attempt by Number 10 to sabotage the negotiations", said Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the Labour Party.
Britain is set to leave the European Union on October 31, although Parliament recently passed a law requiring Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek a three-month extension if he hasn't reached an agreement by October 19.
Johnson reiterated that if Britain did not reach an agreement then the United Kingdom would leave without a deal on October 31. He has also repeatedly demanded an election but parliament has refused to grant one.
Scotland's top court will rule on Wednesday whether to order Johnson to abide by the law forcing a delay and if it could sign a letter asking for an exension if he refuses to do so himself.
Late on Monday night, an 800-word text message attributed to someone in Johnson's office was published on the Spectator magazine's website, blaming the EU's refusal to move on the Irish question for the imminent collapse of the talks.
The British leader has repeatedly said he wants the United Kingdom to leave the bloc by October 31, with or without an agreement in place.More news: Uyghur 'human rights violations' prompt USA to blacklist 28 Chinese security companies