TO MARK Book Week in Scotland, the results of a poll of the nation's 'most iconic' words have been published.

These say a lot about the national mood, as we face Brexit and a December election. The winning word was dreich – originally defined as enduring but now a perfect way to describe weather and politics.

This was followed by glakit, scunnered (my favourite) and wheest – all of which would apply perfectly well to the head to head Corbyn/Johnson debate on television. The result was a no score draw – and polls afterwards suggested that given a choice for prime minister, most voters are unimpressed by both.

We have in Corbyn one who on the key issue of Brexit does not really have a plan beyond kicking the ball back into touch. In Johnson we have someone still setting hopelessly ambitious timetables and muttering an increasingly meaningless phrase about 'getting Brexit done'. Most people would have more trust in a future prime minister who promised to devote their energies to getting Brexit right. Instead we are getting more promises of deadlines, such as the end of January to finalise the withdrawal agreement, which may be possible, and the end of December for a trade deal – which looks optimistic.

Strip away all the rhetoric and a successful Brexit will be rooted in a trade deal. Ironically this is about securing what we already have as an EU member, in the shape of access to the single market without tariffs or onerous bureaucracy.

Before a new government is even appointed in the UK, the European Union seems to be into a good/cop bad cop act. This is coming from two of the key players – the soon to be trade commissioner, Phil Hogan, and the new head of trade in Brussels, Sabine Weyand. This pair will make a formidable and experienced team. Neither will be a push over, and neither will be bluffed by threats of a no trade deal outcome into giving in too early or too easily.

Hogan recently suggested that it should be possible to get negotiations moving by March and said there was no reason for a deal not to be in place by the end of 2020. That was the good cop act, but that outcome was based on the UK effectively accepting what the EU wants to offer. That would be full compliance with all EU rules and tight restrictions on third country trade deals that might allow products into the EU without full compliance. This would effectively be the status quo, which would leave Brexit a largely pointless process.

Interestingly Hogan said that he believed UK consumers would expect the government to comply with EU rules on food standards and the environment, on the basis that no-one would want to see standards lowered.

This was Big Phil at his genial best. He is a skilled negotiator and facilitator. His priorities will include securing a trade deal that maintains Irish access to the UK market for food. If that is not possible, any deal will not interest Hogan. Weyand was however very much the bad cop to his genial approach, when she spoke at a meeting of business leaders in Brussels.

This was a private meeting and while not commenting officially, the European Commission is not denying her comments. She, like Hogan, believes Brexit is a mistake, but she is adamant the timetable of a trade deal by the end of 2020 is not achievable. She said she thought what would be on offer by then for the UK would be a bare-bones deal to keep things ticking over while negotiations continue, or no trade deal. She said that if this was the outcome, the no deal planning by the EU would have been time well spent.

These comments did not go down well with the UK government, since they directly contradict Johnson's claims that a deal in eleven months will be easy. However what politicians say on the stump and believe in private are different. Even the ever bullish Johnson has to know, having lived and worked in Brussels, that trade deals take years not months.

Whoever wins the election will need to temper expectations and begin pushing the reality with Brexiteers that, when the dust settles, nothing will really have changed. That will be the price of a trade deal with the EU – and in different ways, Weyand and Hogan are saying just that.