DONALD Tusk has boosted the spirits of Brexiteers by suggesting a so-called "Canada plus plus plus" deal was on the table.

The European Council President also sought to turn the tables on Theresa May - who complained of a lack of respect from the EU27 following its rejection of her Chequers Plan in Salzburg – by denouncing Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s comparison of the EU to the Soviet Union as an unwise insult and demanded the UK respect Brussels.

Following talks with Ireland’s Leo Varadkar, Mr Tusk tweeted: “From the very beginning, the EU offer has been a Canada+++ deal. Much further-reaching on trade, internal security and foreign policy co-operation. This is a true measure of respect. And this offer remains in place. #brexit.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who chairs the European Research Group of Tory Eurosceptic MPs, said: “This is excellent news. It means that the challenge for the Government is solely solving the Irish border question – which is a political issue.

"This would unite the Conservative Party, be a good deal for the country, deliver on Brexit and it is really difficult to see why the Government is not embracing this.”

His fellow Brexiteer Steve Baker, who said he was “deeply encouraged” by Mr Tusk’s remarks, added: “I very much hope we can persuade all parties to look at pragmatic arrangements on the Irish border, which can unlock a whole UK free trade agreement so we can agree a deal.”

However, the EU’s version of a Canada plus plus plus deal is not quite the same as that promoted by the Brexiteers.

The EU27 believes such a deal would scrap tariffs and boost security co-operation but would not give the UK the same level of access to European markets as EU membership does.

With just two weeks to go before the October 18/19 European Council, its President urged both sides to “get down to business”.

The Prime Minister will hit the Downing Street phones in the next few days, making calls to her European counterparts in a frantic bid to square the circle on a withdrawal agreement. Dominic Raab, the Brexit Secretary, is due in Brussels shortly to put forward the UK’s tweaked Chequers offer.

This, it is thought, would involve Brussels accepting the whole of the UK taking part in a de facto customs union with the EU, thus maintaining the integrity of the Union. It would be a “temporary” extension of the transition period until a full trade deal could be agreed, although some officials believe it could run on for years.

Alongside this, the second part of the compromise would meet the EU’s desire that Northern Ireland would stay part of the single market regulatory area of the bloc.

In Brussels, Mr Tusk picked up on Mr Hunt’s comparison between the EU and the Soviet Union, saying "unacceptable comments" were achieving nothing other than to raise the temperature of the Brexit negotiations.

"Comparing the EU to the Soviet Union is as unwise as it is insulting,” declared the European Council President.

"The Soviet Union was about prisons and gulags, borders and walls, violence against citizens and neighbours.

"The European Union is about freedom and human rights, prosperity and peace, life without fear, it is about democracy and pluralism - a continent without internal borders and walls.”

The former Polish premier added: “As the President of the European Council and someone who spent half his life in the Soviet bloc, I know what I am talking about."