Britain will work to make progress in EU talks but gaps remain, says PM's spokesman

FILE PHOTO: Larry the cat is seen outside 10 Downing Street, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, June 10, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s focus this week is on trying to make progress in formal trade talks with the European Union, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, reiterating that significant gaps still remained.

“As we are entering the final stages of the negotiations our focus is on what it will take to get a trade agreement in place, although the last two weeks of informal talks have been relatively positive there remains much to be done,” he said.

“The fundamentals of our position have not changed. From the start of this process we’ve been saying that we simply want the standard free trade agreement ... The EU’s position has been less straightforward, and we continue to be asked to accept provisions that do not reflect the reality of our status as an independent country.”

He added that while the formal talks end this week, there is still the opportunity to keep negotiations going informally in the run up to the European Council next month.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, editing by William James