IRL has been signaling publicly and clearly for months. HMG and - with several honorable exceptions- much of the UK commentariat decided not to take this seriously.
They also decided to assume that repeated European Council statements on border were not serious.
So now here we are in late November and it seems that yet another deadline will be missed. Though would be happy to be proved wrong.
2 key HMG misjudgments (at least) a factor here. Both reflect their deep seated Europhobia.
1. The EU only cares about money. How often have we heard oh so worldly wise commentators assure us that money was the only Stage 1 issues that really mattered?
2. In the EU only the big 2 matter, a small country like IRL will inevitably be bullied into submission.
Wrong, and wrong again. And wiser heads in FO surely understand what Brexiteers don’t. By becoming a 3rd country UK is placing itself in position where any one of 27 countries, some very small, can deny UK a deep relationship with world’s largest market.