THE BREXIT negotiation between the EU and the UK is now a negotiation in name only. It is, in reality, becoming a mud-slinging match.

This would be normal knockabout politics, if the backdrop for both was not a looming recession. This is down to politics taking the lead over economic common sense in both Brussels and London. Given the arrogance of politicians it is no surprise that the key players on both sides are convinced they are right and that their case is logical.

There is not a lot of point in trying to allocate blame. The EU is trying to bludgeon the UK into concessions over issues London has made red lines. These include fishing access, state aid and the role of the European Court in enforcing any agreement reached. That could be put down to the cut and thrust of any negotiation, where impossible demands are made in expectation of compromise. However the decision by Boris Johnson to ignore all advice, other than that of the sycophantic advisers that surround him, to threaten the withdrawal deal has done more than anything else to poison the atmosphere.

Back in the early 1990s, when Johnson was in Brussels for the Daily Telegraph, he was genial company with an amazing capacity to deliver often implausible anti-EU stories. However even he could not have made up a story about such a self-destructive stance by one side in a key negotiation. The folly of what he is doing has been recognised by his predecessors from his own party and Labour. He seems incapable of seeing the damage he is doing to the UK's international reputation and to the prospects for a trade deal he desperately needs. Despite what Tory Brexiteers say, the economic reality is that the UK needs a trade deal more than the EU-27, because of the vastly different scale of the two economies.

The EU's decision to warn the UK it might not automatically be on the approved list for third country imports of livestock products if there is no deal is certainly not pouring oil on troubled water. It may be an indication of EU frustration that is justified, but it is the wrong target. Through his actions and refusal to listen to sage counsel, Johnson has handed the EU sole occupancy of the moral high-ground. With a threat that lacks any logic, the EU has handed that authority back. In doing so it has reawakened the anti-EU views apparent when British beef was banned from Europe for years longer than necessary because of BSE.

The EU allows 21 countries to export beef and 13 to export poultry to the EU. It would be unbelievable to claim all have higher standards than the UK. Indeed it is entirely possible in the phytosanitary area that the UK has higher standards than most of these countries.

It is interesting that when Michael Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, issued that threat he did not detail the areas where he thought the UK failed to match EU standards. If that is indeed the case it would be a prime example of failure by the EU to police member state standards, given that the UK has been part of the EU single market for many years. Donald Trump and social media have created a whole new industry in fact checking. If that were applied to Barnier's comments on a potential ban on UK livestock products it is doubtful if they would pass any test.

We are now very definitely in the end game of the Brexit negotiation. The October deadline suggested by Mr Johnson is to tie in with an EU heads of state meeting. His game plan is to use that event to hammer out a face to face deal that will allow him to emerge triumphant, having seen off 27 European leaders. To succeed he will have to give way on many of his red lines, but he is relying on his bluster to save the day. That may be a case of hope triumphing over expectation.

Thanks to his decision to go back on his word, Johnson is neither trusted or liked by most EU leaders. Relying on a misplaced belief in his personal charm to save the day is a big risk. Sounder advice would be to wind down the rhetoric, wind up the diplomacy and deliver a deal to be ratified rather than negotiated by EU heads of state in October.