Why are the Europeans being therefore beastly? Why wont they consent to the post-Brexit trade deal Britain wants? Even worse, why doesnt Brussels realize that it's inside EUs own interest to join up to Boris Johnsons proposals? Because the UNITED KINGDOM prime minister never ever tires of saying, Britain buys many German cars, Italian prosecco and French cheese.

Britains federal government is under siege. Its handling of Covid-19 is practically a shambles, with death rates on the list of greatest of rich countries. The economic climate is within deep recession. Breaches of lockdown principles by Dominic Cummings, a detailed prime ministerial aide, have scorched general public trust in the us government. Mr Johnson has experienced a Tory rebellion. He appears lost. Never mind, no matter what fires yourself he can get back control from Brussels.

Discover a snag. After jilting its long-term lovers, Mr Johnsons federal government nevertheless struggles to understand the reason why it cannot keep its matrimonial benefits. The page delivered by Britains Brexit negotiator, David Frost, to their EU opposing quantity, Michel Barnier, in advance of a brand new round of speaks in a few days had been intended to seem hard. In fact, it absolutely was instead plaintive. The reason why, Mr Frost pleaded, does Mr Barnier keep saying No?

there is an element, definitely, of domestic politics. With only seven months regarding the Brexit change duration still to operate, and with the July 1 due date to request an extension looming, the prospect of a failure is rising. The economic prices for Britain could be severe at most readily useful of that time period. Into the wake associated with the surprise regarding the pandemic they'll certainly be ruinous. The government would like to be sure Mr Barnier receives the blame.

Beyond the governmental tactics, but the letter had been a discouraging exemplory case of exactly how small the Brexiters have actually learnt in regards to the EU after above four years of membership. Mr Johnson has discovered it politically convenient to close their eyes into the realities. Many around his cabinet table haven't compensated them any interest.

today's deadlock is very easily summarised. The EU wishes a broad economic and trade contract that preserve close ties; Britain insists on a simple zero-tariff, zero-quota trade pact, plus a sequence of la carte plans in industries including transportation, power, pharmaceuticals and monetary and other services. The EU desires long-lasting access to Britains fishing reasons; Mr Johnson is offering only an annual price.

There is nothing eccentric in regards to the EUs pitch. On contrary, it fits exactly the shared political declaration that both sides signed up final autumn. This solemn declaration of intent presupposed an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible cooperation, which will cover economic as well as trade co-operation. Which will make this work it could include terms to underpin an amount playing field for available and reasonable competition.

The impasse has actually arisen because Mr Johnson changed their head. Invoking a novel principle of international relations, he claims that winning a British election bestows the ability to tear up agreements he's created using international lovers. The amount playing-field terms implying provided work and ecological requirements, norms and typical rules for condition help, and such a thing implying a say the European Court of Justice should be jettisoned.

Never mind this dates back on Britains term. Without a hint of irony, Mr Frost has become informing Mr Barnier that EU usually takes Mr Johnson on trust. This, as prime minister also obfuscates towards fate of a separate, legally-binding commitment on procedure associated with border between Northern Ireland together with Irish Republic.

Unsurprisingly, the EU27 views this has an improved feeling of its own passions than does Britain. From its viewpoint, Mr Frost is proposing a price that will gather together most of the bits Britain likes from EU agreements with, or proposes to, countries because diverse as Canada, Norway, Southern Korea and Mexico. This excellent package would stay alongside a number of plans especially tailored to Britains interests when you look at the services industry.

the root assumption usually Britain is somehow owed privileged accessibility. Within the eyes of Brussels, Berlin and Paris, it is now a third country an essential friend, but, possibly, also a threat towards the stability of solitary marketplace. Forget the cars and prosecco, the unions overriding interest against which all else is trivial will be maintain its system of rules and appropriate oversight.

The Brexiters haven't correctly grasped that, for its erstwhile lovers, the EU can be a great deal a governmental as an economic enterprise. European integration is an investment in provided protection, security and democratic values, plus a source of prosperity. These are perhaps not things they can share in a trade handle Britain.

The upshot is the fact that EU just can't provide the deal Mr Johnson desires. Certain, it can liven up its offer on trade accessibility and lower its demands on fisheries. However it cannot flex its principles off shape.

Mr Johnson is kept with two alternatives. They can accept a better form of Mr Barniers offer and, while he did aided by the detachment contract, try to reframe defeat as success. Or he can enable Britain to slip over the cliff edge without any contract.

The governments dismal overall performance over current months scarcely provides cause for optimism.

Follow Philip Stephens withmyFT and onTwitter