BRITAIN’S ebullient prime minister turned to Angela Merkel and told his German host: “Wir schaffen das!” We can do it.

Boris Johnson insisted that the Irish backstop, which he has branded “anti-democratic,” had to go in its entirety but that the so-called “alternative arrangements” could be found; indeed, he insists the technological solutions to maintaining an open border with the Republic already exist; in abundance.

Mrs Merkel’s response to his can-do spirit was unexpected, and perhaps, unexpectedly positive. She set him a deadline.

The German Chancellor told reporters: "If one is able to solve this conundrum, if one finds this solution, we said we would probably find it in the next two years to come but we can also maybe find it in the next 30 days to come. Then we are one step further in the right direction.”

And then she added to the delight of her enthusiastic guest: “Obviously, we have to put our all into this.”

Mr Johnson responded by saying he was “more than happy” to accept the Berlin challenge, which he described as a “blistering timetable of 30 days”.

He explained: "There are abundant solutions which are proffered, which have already been discussed. I don't think, to be fair, they have so far been very actively proposed over the last three years by the British Government.”

Turning to his host, the PM said: “You rightly say the onus is on us to produce those solutions, those ideas, to show how we can address the issue of the Northern Irish border and that is what we want to do.

"I must say I am very glad listening to you tonight Angela to hear that at least the conversations that matter can now properly begin.”

As they left to dine in the Chancellery over Brandenburg venison and chocolate tart, Mr Johnson could be forgiven for thinking that things were going his way.

But there is a lot of ground to cover in 30 days.

As the PM was standing shoulder to shoulder with Mrs Merkel, Mr Johnson’s next host, Emmanuel Macron, was tightening the Brexit screw.

An Elysee Palace official ahead of the two leaders’ meeting today in Paris stressed: “The scenario that is becoming the most likely is one of no-deal.

“If the United Kingdom considers that having a backstop is absolutely excluded, that is its right, but in that case it limits the possibility of reaching an agreement.”

He then added: “The idea of saying: ‘There is not a deal, so I won’t pay,’ does not work.” In other words, Britain would have to pay its £39 billion divorce bill even in a no-deal outcome.

The core message Mr Johnson is determined to send to his European counterparts is that, despite all they hear from MPs who oppose Brexit, there is zero chance they can block Britain’s departure from the EU, deal or no-deal.

But as Jeremy Corbyn, Ian Blackford, Jo Swinson and others plan their next joint move, the EU is preparing to dig in.

Simon Coveney, the Irish Deputy Prime Minister, made clear Dublin was “not going to abandon a solution that we know works for some kind of promise on the basis of trust that we will all work together to try and find a solution and muddle on in the future to solve the border”.

If that happened, he argued, the EU would be “creating collateral damage in Ireland to solve a problem in Westminster”. In such a scenario, the border issue would dominate Irish politics, north and south, for years to come.

"We are not in the business of facilitating the UK effectively moving away from commitments they have made to Ireland and the EU to protect the Good Friday Agreement, to protect an all-island economy, and to replace that with some sort of make-shift deal in the weeks before a no-deal. That isn't what we are going to do,” declared the Tanaiste.

He then made clear: "We are not in the business of being steam-rolled at the end of this because a British prime minister has rolled out new red lines.”

If that was not strong enough, Phil Hogan, Ireland’s EU Commissioner, accused Mr Johnson of being an "unelected" prime minister who risked gambling with peace and stability in Northern Ireland.

He warned a hard Brexit would create a "foul atmosphere" between the UK and the EU and claimed while such an outcome would mean "pain for everyone…the worst pain will be felt by the people of the UK".