“EU’s Brexit negotiators prepare for disaster”

Nobody does hard-headed realism in journalism quite like the Economist magazine, which has encapsulated the gulf of mutual incomprehension in which the Brexit negotiations will take place. There will not even be a shared understanding of what the negotiations are about. EU officials “… observe goggle-eyed the spectacle unfolding across the Channel. Some British ministers appear to believe that the entire relationship can be recast, rather than merely the divorce settlement finalised, in the two-year period Article 50 allows.” Here at BBB we thought it was just us who saw constant confusion coming out of London on precisely that point. Clearly there will be degrees of unreality in the early stages of talks: “European negotiators …  are staggered to hear some ministers cling to the delusion that Germany’s need to sell cars to British motorists will ensure that Mrs But May secures a good deal.”

Early negotiations will not be about deals at all but about the bill for departure, which the EU puts at up to €60 billion. This number has yet to make an impact on the UK media debate, but when it does the effect should be colourful.  According to the Economist one EU official puts the chances of Britain walking out of the talks next year at 50%.