One can usually tell when a journo has been royally fed the official line. Con Coughlin's MOD lunches are marked by subsequent pieces of strong, coherent journalism pushing a risibly absurd line that defies all logic. Which probably seems really convincing until the cold light of the following morning.
All the EU's planted stories so far on the Brexit talks have been models of Teutonic coherence. One can almost hear the machine-gun rattle of the press officer listing out the points at the journo's winking recorder. And once they actually realised that the UK really will walk away from a bad deal, the focus of their press manipulation has been pushing the line that our hopes are unrealistic, and that our only option is to take our punishment for the good of the 27. Only it must never be called punishment.
The best example this morning is a piece in Der Spiegel. The author doesn't even bother to hint at those hedging prevarications that a news story usually contains. Nope. This is pure gamesmanship - using the only weapons the EU can muster, bluff, threat and spin.
Whenever I've gone into negotiations with an unassailably strong position, the very last thing I've done is to crow about it to the other side. In fact, you rather hope the other side doesn't realise quite how strong your position is - if you want a deal, that is. So why is Spiegel, parotting the official line, crowing so loudly? Unless it's all tommyrot. And everything else we hear from the EU side suggests they're living in La-la land, hoping that bluff, spin and bullying will scare the UK into doing as we're told. They really don't know us, do they?