The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, sounded a philosophical note on Friday, telling reporters that "Brexit is like climbing a mountain". This would have the twin benefit of preventing a border on the island of Ireland and enabling the U.K.to strike trade deals around the world.
Without a deal, Mr Johnson will face demands from opposition parties to comply with the so-called Benn Act which would require him to request a three-month Brexit delay if there is no agreement by October 19.
"There's a way to go, it's important now that our negotiators on both sides get into proper talks about how to sort this thing out and if they can't then we have to be ready, as this country is and will be, to come out with no deal if we absolutely have to".
The softer mood music after Mr Johnson's meeting with the Taoiseach followed an intensive few days which saw an acrimonious war of words explode and the talks appear close to collapse.More news: Turkey's Syria op could see ISIS terrorists scattering - Putin
Meanwhile, British and European Union officials are to continue Brexit talks over the weekend amid speculation a deal is possible, which could break the deadlock over the border.
"However, yesterday when the Irish Taoiseach and the UK Prime Minister met they both saw for the first time a pathway to a deal".
The tepid positivity came after Mr Johnson and Mr Varadkar said they could "see a pathway" to a possible agreement following face-to-face discussions in the Wirral. While there's no discussion yet of putting a time limit on that arrangement, something the European Union has previously rejected, one European Union official said that it could yet be considered.
The meeting came one day after talks between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar, and just six days before the European Union summit that is seen as the key date in efforts to find a deal before a chaotic divorce on 31 October.More news: Arkansas judge: Court to hear 19 adoption scheme cases
However, after the "constructive" breakfast with Barclay, Barnier was given the go-ahead from member state ambassadors to begin a more detailed negotiation on a path towards a possible draft text.
The EU Commision later confirmed that the EU and the United Kingdom will now "intensify discussions over the coming days", reaffirming their position that a "legally operative" solution was required to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland - the main sticking point for Brussels. "You need vigilance, determination and patience", following his meeting with the UK's Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay.
Barnier was expected to brief the European Parliament's Brexit Steering group on progress on Friday afternoon.
The EU strongly objected to a proposal in Mr Johnson's Brexit blueprint for Northern Ireland to leave the customs union together with the rest of the United Kingdom - meaning the return of customs controls on the island of Ireland.More news: Ex-teammate: Kirk Cousins is 'weakest part' of Vikings offense