According to former Labour MP Austin Mitchell writing in Brexit Central, the UK is engaged in negotiating with a giant EU jellyfish.
In his excellent piece he says that, while we in the UK argue amongst ourselves about whether we want a hard, soft or fuzzy Brexit, we'll just end up getting what we're given, which won't be much, because the EU cannot negotiate.
"We’re not negotiating with nay-saying Barnier or jolly-junketing Juncker, but a giant jellyfish. EU authority is divided between 27 nations, a Commission which isn’t a government and a Council of Ministers which claims to be one but isn’t. Hovering in the wings is the pretend parliament which also has a say, though no one’s sure what it is." He writes, which is as good a summation as any.
Austin Mitchell then outlines all the bloc's internal mechanisms and problems that will mean that, in the end, the European Union answer to all change or negotiation is always going to be a blank refusal, while waiting for the other side to give up banging its head against their brick wall – something he says that the Eurocrats are now doing to the UK.
And he ends by saying:
"You’ve got to be tough, absolutely determined, carry a big stick and be prepared to use it to get anywhere when you’re dealing with a jellyfish."
Can't argue with that.
But some people might liken the EU more to a large puce coloured blancmange – you can prod and poke it and the only response you get is a bit of a wobble for a few seconds.