London, Nov 17 (IANS) A senior UK official has said that the country’s red lines remained unchanged in negotiations over its future relationship with the European Union (EU), as the two sides continued their talks in Brussels this week.

“Our red lines haven’t changed and we’re preparing for whatever the outcome is,” Xinhua news agency quoted the UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock as saying on Sky News on Monday.

“Of course our preference is to get a deal and that is open to the Europeans if they choose to make the progress that’s needed,” he said.

Echoing Hancock, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday urged more realism from the EU.

“Although there has been some progress in recent days, there is much work to be done and time is very short,” he was quoted as saying.

“So if we are to make further progress in the coming days we need to see more realism from the

EU on what it means for the UK to be an independent state,” the spokesman said.

On Sunday, the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost said the only possible deal is one that is compatible with “our sovereignty and takes back control of our laws, our trade, and our waters”.

“That has been our consistent position from the start and I will not be changing it,” he noted upon arrival in Brussels for another round of negotiations with the EU.

“There has been some progress in a positive direction in recent days…We will work to build on these and get an overall agreement if we can,” he said in a series of tweets.

A video summit of EU leaders, slated for November 19 to discuss the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic, is being viewed in Brussels as the final deadline for a draft Brexit deal, according to The Guardian newspaper.

The UK and the EU started their lengthy and bumpy post-Brexit talks in March after the country formally ended its membership with the bloc on January 31, trying to secure a future trade deal before the Brexit transition period expires on December 31.

Serious differences remain in level playing field, governance and fisheries, among others, after rounds of talks.

Prime Minister Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said earlier this month that the two sides would “redouble” their efforts to find a solution.

–IANS

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