Dominic Raab tripped up on Michel Barnier's Brexit staircase — that is how EU negotiators see how the reworking of a draft deal reached a month ago led to new demands on Britain that prompted him and other ministers to resign.

The "staircase" in question is a somewhat crude infographic produced by the European Union's chief negotiator a year ago that shows different types of trade ties that countries can have with the bloc. It lays out a descending trade-off between rights and obligations, from full EU membership at the top left (many rights like full access to the EU market but many obligations such as open migration, strict EU rules and budget payments) to Canada's free trade pact with the EU at the bottom right, which commits the North Americans to relatively little beyond the commercial area.

According to EU officials and diplomats close to the British-exit negotiations, it was demands by Brexit Secretary Raab and Prime Minister Theresa May to seek more rights than were offered in a draft deal a month ago — notably a guarantee of a customs union — that led to Wednesday's deal ending up laden with further obligations that Raab and other Brexiteers could not stomach.