Each side accuses the other of being unreasonable. The EU is right that the Johnson government has been backsliding on commitments made in the withdrawal agreement, behaviour that has deepened their pre-existing suspicions of a British prime minister who caused enduring offence by comparing the EU to Nazi prison guards. The British government is right that some of the EU’s demands, especially on fisheries and state aid, are too aggressive.
The rawest complaint from London is that the EU is treating Britain as a supplicant rather than an “equal” sovereign state. The EU retorts that the Johnson government is not, as it claims to be, seeking a free trade agreement, but demanding the right to cherry-pick privileged access to the single market.