I dislike repeating myself, which is why I haven’t had much to say recently, but there is a way out of the current impasse – if only the UK government and the EU will take it. The backstop protecting Ireland appears to be the primary source of contention. It is only needed because the UK and the EU have not yet formed any agreement about Britain’s future relationship with the EU. Indeed, in more than two years, thanks to an absurd initial decision about the sequence of the negotiating process, they’ve not agreed a single binding clause about that relationship. An agreement on the future relationship would finalise Britain’s departure, and then there would be no need for any provisional arrangement to cover the particular circumstances of Ireland in the interim. Yes, trade deals are complicated; but substantial existing deals are there as models, many of the points already in the withdrawal agreement are uncontentious, and Britain currently meets the acquis communautaire. It could be done, if people wanted it to be done.
Unfortunately, I see no evidence either that the new UK government is interested in engaging in any kind of negotiation on that basis, or that the EU understands that there is a way out of the mess that doesn’t involve brinkmanship or a game of ‘chicken’. Everyone has packed up for the summer. In those circumstances, Brexit will happen without a deal.