So what's going on? Here's a quick overview from what I know.
As we report today, David Davis and Olly Robbins are representing conflicting views over how 'ambitious' the UK should be in the scope of the non-binding annex on trade and the future relationship. /2
Time will tell if this was a face-saving measure for the Brexit Secretary who has long argued UK must seek guts of a trade deal in A50. /3
In the end, this may be decided by the EU side, which is having its own discussions on this. The power players (FR, DE, Cion) seem to favour tighter declaration to squeeze Brits during transition period negotiations. /4
For now the Ireland question is front and centre: How to fix the Irish 'trilemma'?
If the UK wants an all-UK solution, they will end up in something v close to a Customs Union, even if it's not called this.
As Mij Rahman @EurasiaGroup
well-connected Europe chief writes today the EU (and Dublin) will want clarity. /6
The UK is still in the "Mansion House" zone (where May parroted positions from August customs paper, like the dual external tariff) but these won't hold. Logically, they cannot. /7
On both sides, there is expectation that May/June will be crunch months. One top EU sources expects a "camouflage customs union".
The political question for May is how to get there. /8
Geographical indications (Brussels effect on regional trade designation); road transport (truck licenses); aviation (airline ownership) data (French protectionism)...to name but a few. /9
The future phase was always going to expose conflicting interests.
Mr Barnier's challenge is to guard against UK 'cherry picking' while accommodating individual EU member states' interests. /11
Which bring us back to the UK tactical discussion on future. /12
The clue is in the obtusely short 21-month transition period, and May's attempt to extend it. /14
It might suit May to trumpet Canada+++ but "come a little closer, my dear" and we see this EU grandmother has big eyes, big teeth and a big belly! /15
If the early rounds of negotiation are a guide, it may be hard avoid. /16
This will not be easy for an economy of UK's size and stature to stomach, to put it mildly.
And the political demons fueled Brexit will not be slain. /ENDS