If nothing else is certain, it seems now that both sides in the Brexit negotiations recognise that December is the crunch month. The decisions made by both sides at the end of the year will determine whether we leave with a deal or without one; without one, we then have fifteen months in which to prepare for a life with no transitional trade period with the EU, but richer by £13bn a year. That saving can pay for, amongst many other things, at least twenty new Fisheries Patrol Vessels and their crews.
Like others I have a certain faith in brinkmanship, having seen it in action many times. As public negotiations seem deadlocked and intractable, and as midnight approaches, the quiet private talks that have been going on in the background suddenly produce a deal to which both sides can sign up. So I shall avoid any didacticism until things go past the point of no-return.
One point about what must be a paragraph-heading in the negotiations - a quid pro quo deal that involves the City, and the UK's exclusive economic marine zone. It has been suggested that in return for continuing to allow the City some advantage - passporting rights or somesuch - that we continue to permit EU fishing boats to harvest fish from UK waters. If we go out with no deal, and prevent EU vessels from fishing in our waters, they will have to pay (under WTO rules) a 30% tariff on any British-caught fish imported, as well as the idle-costs of many thousands of EU fishing boats and their crews who currently depend on UK waters for the greater part of their livelihood. The two issues may not be equal in financial terms, but excluding the EU from UK waters would hit the EU very hard where it hurts - popular perception.
On the menu for last night's EU dinner was aiglefin fumé - smoked Haddock with a Parmesan mousse on a bed of butternut gnocchi. They'd better make the most of it; without a deal, from 2019 they'll be eating remarkably little Haddock.