The announcement that Brexit negotiations are set to continue will no doubt alarm Brexiteers who fear compromise.
In fairness to Brussels however, they set out their stall early on and stuck to the script.
The EU is unwilling, as they see it, to let Britain have its cake and eat it, by having large access to the EU’s market while not being a member or leaving the club and not paying a price.
This might explain what could otherwise be seen as an unduly recalcitrant attitude and it also demonstrates why any deal which the EU agrees to is likely to be on its terms.
If EU membership were as onerous as the Brexiteers suggest, the United Kingdom would have left decades ago. Instead, it stayed a member for almost 47 years, albeit in a comatose state for the last three.
In the decades before the 2016 referendum, fewer than 10 per cent of UK voters cited Europe as the most important issue.
Indeed, as late as December 2015, a mere one per cent did.
Only after the Leave vote did its salience spike, 47 per cent now name it the most important issue. In other words, contrary to David Cameron’s claims, it was the politicians who led the public rather than the public who led the politicians.
In a little-noticed piece, Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s senior adviser and Vote Leave’s campaign director, argued last year that an EU referendum was a choice, not a necessity.
The belief that there was an irresistible force for a referendum was pushed by Nigel Farage’s and David Cameron’s supporters – Dominic Cummings wrote that they were both wrong.
The country supported one but without any passion outside the small fraction who had long been passionate about it. Most Tory MPs didn’t want it.
David Cameron wanted to be prime minister. After all, he believed he’d be good at it and he held a referendum because he thought he could win it and resolve the European question – he achieved the reverse.
From the moment the United Kingdom voted to leave, the status quo ceased to exist.
The spectre of the 2016 referendum will eternally haunt any decision to remain in the EU and there’s no easy way to leave and what some desire is a past that no longer exists.
Britain decides to leave and then wants a grandiose send-off. That’s a bit like filing for divorce and then expecting a floral bouquet.
Was the United Kingdom ever going to have reasonable expectations on what an acceptable deal might look like? Extremely unlikely. Our Government couldn’t negotiate their way out of a paper bag.
And the area with the smallest population, therefore the smallest market will always lose out but only Boris Johnson and co are complacent enough to believe they can reverse the laws of economics.
And the EU isn’t going to change the rules encircling 27 nations to accommodate one country that wants to exit, it’s as straightforward as that, forget all the touchy-feely folly.
The EU needs to appreciate it no longer makes the rules to cover the United Kingdom and at the moment they don’t and the United Kingdom is deluded if they believe this was going to be the easiest trade deal ever, or maybe they were deceived?
Although I must admit the EU made it obvious from the beginning they only wanted to punish us, yet we’ve frittered years in fruitless negotiations.
What was thought to be a good deal was never truly noted down anywhere and I can only assume that a good deal was one where the United Kingdom could gain the obligations of EU membership.
I guess the leverage for accomplishing this was the negative trade imbalance – the problem being that a negative balance is seldom a position of strength and we really do need them more than they need us, although clearly nobody is a winner.