DOMINIC Raab has "categorically" ruled out an indefinite customs union with the EU to resolve the Irish border impasse in the Brexit talks as Ireland’s Deputy Taoiseach warned a no-deal would cause economic “carnage”.

The Brexit Secretary began his Commons update post the acrimonious Salzburg summit facing Labour MPs shouting out “where is she?” with Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Raab’s Shadow, suggesting Theresa May should have been at the despatch box given it was she who had failed to persuade the EU27 of her Chequers Plan last month.

Noting how it was not customary for prime ministers to give statements on “informal” summits, the Secretary of State told MPs it was time for Brussels to match the UK’s ambition and pragmatism and meet it “half-way”.

He explained how talks with the EU had "intensified" and the two sides were now "closing in on workable solutions" to all of the key outstanding issues.

Mr Raab told MPs if the Government held its nerve, remained “resolute and focused,” he was confident a deal could be agreed this autumn.

As UK ministers prepare to unveil new proposals on customs and regulations, Sir Keir asked if an "indefinite UK-wide customs union" would be part of them.

He also called on Mr Raab to rule out a "vague or blind Brexit", declaring: "No government has the right to plunge the country into chaos as a result of its own failure.”

The Secretary of State brushed aside the suggestion of an indefinite customs union, saying: "No, categorically that is not correct."

Nigel Dodds for the Democratic Unionists repeated what has been dubbed the party’s “blood red line,” telling the Brexit Secretary: "We will not tolerate anything that separates Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK in terms of customs or single market as we leave the EU. We've been clear about that from day one.

"It's why we had the debacle in December. Let's not repeat that mistake," insisted the Belfast MP.

Leading Brexiteer Steve Baker, the former Brexit Minister, argued a free trade agreement could be made to work across the Irish border using pragmatic arrangements.

"When will the Government…admit we can leave into a Free Trade Agreement[FTA] basis, which will make this a proper independent country able to control its domestic regulations as well as its tariffs so that we can lead the world into a new era of free trade?"

But Mr Raab told his Conservative colleague his plan was untenable, saying: "The EU are not offering us Canada, super-Canada, an FTA without keeping to the commitment that we made when he was in Government in December to come up with a legally binding backstop.

“So, that[Mr Baker’s proposal] is a shortcut to no-deal…The optimum aim here that we're working towards is a good deal with the EU. We couldn't get that if we pursued what he's suggesting."

Peter Grant for the SNP pointed out with just over a week to the next European Council the public still did not know what the UK Government intended to propose to resolve the Northern Ireland issue.

"We're running out of time. We need answers very very quickly," he insisted.

Meanwhile, Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Deputy PM, said the Brexit talks had reached a crucial stage and there had been an "intensification" this week.

He warned: "If Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal on anything, then you are talking about carnage...particularly for Britain; that is a very unlikely scenario.

"Certainly, I will work and have been working with the EU task force to make sure that does not materialise."

In other developments:

*David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary, urged Mrs May to “reset” her Brexit strategy, warning of "dire" consequences for the Conservatives at the next General Election if she did not;

*Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, repeatedly failed to support the PM’s Chequers Plan when asked but insisted Mrs May had her “full support” and

*DUP leader Arlene Foster, after talks with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said any Brexit deal had to meet her party’s “blood red line” on maintaining the integrity of the United Kingdom.