IN a divorce, there comes a moment that matrimonial lawyers sometimes call “capitulation”. This is when both sides become so exhausted with the negotiations that they just accept whatever deal happens to be on the table, so they can get on with their lives. We’re reaching that point in Brexit. Brussels gave up bothering months ago, and the UK public just want an end to this purgatory.

The draft Withdrawal Agreement drawn up between the UK and Brussels will be endorsed by the EU Summit this weekend and voted on by the UK Parliament next month. Number 10 hopes that everyone’s minds will be addled by John Lewis Christmas ads by then, and that Labour will abandon its facile suggestion that it can go back to Brussels and negotiate something better. Angela Merkel herself has spoken – the answer is “Nein, danke”.

The 585-page document has been so tightly drafted, and language so massaged and manipulated, that it’s passed the stage when words have any fixed meaning. Constitutional lawyers think that some concessions have been made to the UK – at least in distancing the European Court of Justice from dispute resolution. But the Luxembourg court is still there, in the background, standing as the ultimate authority on all those aspects of EU law Britain accepts: state aid, environment, workplace regulations, trade marks and so on...

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Similarly, while Northern Ireland won’t remain formally in the European single market after Brexit, it will be more closely integrated with the European Union than the UK. There will be regulatory divergence. As Theresa May has admitted, firms located there will have a competitive advantage: frictionless access to the single market. Goods entering the EU from the rUK will be subject to checks. There’s no getting round this, however opaque the language.

The document is a masterpiece of obfuscation, weasel words, circumlocutions and qualifications, which suits both sides right now. Brussels knows it can roll back from much of the deal after March when Britain has formally left the EU and paid its bill. Mrs May just wants to get past the March exit date, so she can get a life. The agreement really only covers the Irish backstop, the divorce bill and the rights of EU citizens. If the negotiations on the future trading relations are successful, Mrs May insists, the Irish backstop may never be needed. But these negotiations haven’t begun. As soon as this document is agreed, the whole dismal process begins again. Another two years of legal wrangling, red lines, ultimatums, delays and last minute compromise.

In fact, the transition period is already being extended to 2022, and could go on to “20XX” according to the Political Declaration. The UK will certainly remain in the EU orbit for many years, even if there is that Canada plus/Norway minus/Switzerland-type deal that Mrs May envisages. It’s mind-numbing. If only someone could just stop the whole process now, I’m pretty sure most British voters would accept it. They’re past the point of capitulation and worrying about their sanity.

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All credit to Nicola Sturgeon, therefore, for holding talks with Labour in Westminster about halting the Brexit process by delaying Article 50, which formally takes us out of the European Union in 128 days. She says her MPs would endorse a People’s Vote on staying in the EU. This is good –unfortunately, there seems vanishingly little chance of them having the opportunity so to do. (There’s even less chance of Scotland getting a special deal like Northern Ireland or remaining in the single market. Scotland fell off the Brexit map after the aborted independence referendum in 2017, and no longer counts.)

Mrs May is clearly not willing to call a People’s Vote, and she’s not going anywhere. The Prime Minister’s authority has been greatly enhanced by the stupidity of the Brexiters. They staged a premature leadership challenge and, effectively, lost it by not delivering the numbers for a no confidence vote. Just about sums up their entire self-deluded approach.

Labour’s still hoping for a General Election, even though there’s no chance of getting one. If and when Labour MPs vote against Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement next month, the Government won’t fall. There needs to be a two-thirds majority to force an election, and Tory MPs won’t vote for an early Christmas. The Prime Minister will simply come back to the house with a face-saving amendment or two, perhaps agreeing to extend British participation in the customs union or “territory” beyond the backstop.

By then there will be huge pressure on Labour to sign up to her deal – not just from the PM. The Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, Michel Barnier, Angela Merkell, the CBI, the UK press (including the new improved Daily Mail) will all be screaming for Labour to endorse this deal as the only way of avoiding a disastrous no-deal Brexit. Is Labour really going to walk through the lobbies, with Jacob Rees Mogg and the DUP, to vote for chaos at the ports, a stock-market crash, the Army on the streets and tens of thousands of Labour voters laid off work?

Labour’s grounds for opposing the Withdrawal Agreement are anyway paper thin. Even if the negotiations could be restarted before March, what would Labour be asking for? Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t want the “Norway Option” of staying in the EU single market, because that would involve free movement. He doesn’t want to stay in the EU Customs Union either, only “a” customs union, which Labour says it would negotiate. But Theresa May has already been there, done that.

Anyway, Mr Corbyn wants Brexit, a “jobs Brexit” to succeed. He is avoiding any firm commitment to a People’s Vote, which would undermine Labour in English Brexit constituencies. I doubt if Ms Sturgeon is going to persuade him otherwise. Labour may not avoid voting, in the end, for withdrawal under EU terms.

So we have it. Britain plunges ahead into a Blind Brexit no one wants, leaving the EU, and all its benefits, without any future trade deal. It’s a self-inflicted disaster that historians will argue over for the next century: how a great nation simply took leave of its senses.