I've no idea what the final outcome will be in The Negotiation and I'm not sufficiently informed or expert for any speculation to be of much value. I thought, however, I'd make some observations about The Negotiation itself and why it is extremely challenging. Plus why I think the UK government is making a fairly decent fist of the process, even though I would not have adopted the approach they have chosen.
When you or I undertake a negotiation it's normally a pretty straightforward affair even when it involves a significant deal like buying a house. Back when my better and wiser half was negotiating multi-million pound business deals, it was still pretty clear who were the parties involved, information was secure, and the process was conducted with a sense of goodwill and positive intent. None of this applies for The Negotiation.
In simple terms the UK government is negotiating with the EU commission but is doing so on the understanding that any deal is subject to approval by others (British parliament, European parliament, etc, etc.). But the UK government also has to deal with:
An active and well-connected campaign for the negotiation to fail supported by just about every broadcaster and broadsheet newspaperIn this context it's quite remarkable that the UK government has stuck to the basis of its position as set out by the Prime Minister in her speech to Conservative Party Conference in October 2016 - leave the EU including the customs union and single market, negotiate a trade deal with the EU27 that (in the context of leaving) best reflects the interests of British business, industry and consumers.
An opposition party committed to disrupting the process and, it seems, working at least partly in cahoots with the other side in The Negotiation - while offering no strategy of its own
As repeated leaks demonstrate, a civil service that includes people who want the process to collapse
A group within the governing party that is seeking to undermine negotiations either for reasons of supposed principle or, just as commonly, personal ambition
Another party group seeking an impractical resolution that doesn't reflect the realities of the situation or represent UK interests
Direction or attempted direction from parliament, courts and 'expert opinion' that sets out alternative approaches - not in the interests of resolution but for reasons of disruption
A persistent narrative of failure from the media, politicians and commentators - nothing works, all is chaos nothing is right
Non-participant governments (Ireland, Spain) seeking to meet domestic political imperatives through pressure on EU party to negotiations
The UK government may be mistaken in its approach, I'm not qualified to say one way or another, but to say it is unclear, chaotic or confused is simply rubbish. What's unclear, chaotic and confusing is all the chaff, cantreps and tripwires constructed by the list of people in the UK wanting The Negotiation to fail. Plus a constant barrage of negative misinformation from a - mostly ill-informed and partisan - commentariat that wants to paint Britain as useless, the government as incompetent and the whole process as some sort of existential threat to human civilisation.
I may be in a minority of one here but I think, given the unprecedented complexity caused by those who want The Negotiation to fail, the UK government is doing as good a job as can be expected.