Britain remains committed to agreeing the outlines of a balanced trade agreement with the European Union but significant differences between the two sides remain, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.
Talks on a so-called future relationship, which are now in their fifth round, have all but stalled, raising fears among some companies that there will be disruption at the end of the year if the two fail to secure a trade deal.
"We remain committed to working hard to find the outlines of a balanced agreement," the spokesman told reporters.
"We have been clear that discussions throughout this intensified process have continued to be constructive but significant differences still remain on a number of important issues.
"Our preference is to leave with a FTA (free trade agreement) as long as it guarantees our political and economic independence ... We will make sure that we're prepared for all possible scenarios."