A trade deal with the EU "can and must be made", the head of the CBI has warned as the latest round of negotiations begin in Brussels.
With the Brexit transition period ending on 31 December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that a trade deal must be agreed with the EU by 15 October in order to be ready for the start of 2021.
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said the resumption of talks today (Monday) signal the "11th hour" of negotiations.
She said: "Now must be the time for political leadership and the spirit of compromise to shine through on both sides. A deal can and must be made.
"Businesses face a hat-trick of unprecedented challenges - rebuilding from the first wave of Covid-19, dealing with the resurgence of the virus and preparing for significant changes to the UK's trading relationship with the EU."
A survey carried on by the CBI on its own members found that just 4% would prefer to continue with striking a trade deal with the EU.
Ms Fairbairn added: "A good deal will provide the strongest possible foundation as countries build back from the pandemic.
"It would keep UK firms competitive by minimising red tape and extra costs, freeing much-needed time and resource to overcome the difficult times ahead."
It is understood that the two sides are 'nearly there', but are failing to find agreement on a handful of areas, particularly fishing. According to some reports, the deal is 90% completed on technical issues but the remaining 10% is political and more difficult to compromise on.