I've tried to avoid reading about Brexit for the past year because it's a really good route to short-term depression.
Roughly two years have passed since the UK Government prematurely triggered Article 50. There's been lots, and lots, and lots of talk since then, but in reality very little has happened - well, quite a lot has happened, but very little of the big stuff that needs to be done by the deadline has happened.
The EU 27 set out their position early on:
- The UK chose to leave, so they'll leave and lose access to the benefits of being a member.
- The EU will manage the exit in a way to cause the least damage to the EU, and hopefully the UK (but they're the ones that chose to leave, so..).
Seems reasonable. Brexit, as far as the EU is concerned, is a legal process and an exercise in damage limitation - not a negotiation. The UK fundamentally misunderstands this as intransigence.
The UK, under the Chequers proposals, asks for access to the single market (with the ability to strike external trade deals - though with who, nobody yet knows), along with opt-outs from freedom of movement, paying into the EU budget and being under the jurisdiction of the ECJ.
The EU have not been particularly enthusiastic about these proposals,since they undermine the core structures of the union, and the UK has been banging its head against this wall for the past six months.
Theresa May tried to use an EU summit in Salzburg to go over the head of the intractable negotiators and appeal to the generosity of the individual member states, but this failed spectacularly and without benefit of a better plan, she threw a wobbler and announced that it would be Europe's fault if Britain crashed out without a deal, and that they need to prevent it from happening. The irony is delicious, but there we seem to have become stuck.
Theresa 'Strong & Stable Leadership' May is at the mercy of the cretinous elements of the Conservative Party, no one can quite understand what the Labour Party intends to do, and time is ticking.
For a very readable view of the current status of the EU talks, read Chris Grays Brexit Blog. For a giggle (or a cry), read these reports of meetings between the PM and Angela Merkel.