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Why Britain Should Be Able To Negotiate Brexit Effectively

Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43

There is a lot of discussion within Britain and elsewhere about Brexit and the ability of Britain to secure reasonable terms whatever they may be.

Fundamentally irrespective of whatever divorce arrangement the United Kingdom negotiates with the EU, it does have an apparent advantage which any negotiator would idendtify namely it is just one country negotiating in effect with twenty seven other countries.

When I deal with legal and mediation problems, it is generally preferable (irrespective of financial resources, whatever) to be acting for a side with fewer people or diverging interests.

On the face of it, this gives Britain an advantage. A smaller party can identify its interests and its negotiating position with relative ease.

Nevertheless as we all appreciate it is not so straightforward.

The United Kingdom is divided both in terms of the way its peoples voted(Scotland, Northern Ireland to remain in the EU) and in its government with the way the PM voted in the way the refereredum and the way her ministers voted.

However compared to the EU, the negotiation internal divisions are much less marked particularly given the split of decision making in the EU between the EU Commission and the Council of Ministers(Head of the nation states) there is far greater scope for internal argument. 

There is much more going on in the EU with much more differing interests to deal with. The EU is more likely to be more divided.

Nevertheless what is significant about the way that both the EU Commission and the UK Goverrnnent are approaching the negotaions is the absence of intelligence and the capacity to provoke.

Both these attributes are underrated in a vocal social media world where the soundbite is so important.

Thus the British go into negotiations with the absence of a plan having not bothered to prepare a continguency plan with the arrogant assumption that one was not needed as it was inevitable that remain would win.

Or we have Mr David Davis, the Minister responsible for Brexit jesting the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt as Satan and the EU politician allowing himself to be known as offended by the remark.‚Äč

Or we have a number of EU leaders saying they will make Brexit "very painful" for Britain to ensure the UK is worse off outside the bloc. A number of Eastern European nations have warned they will threaten Britain's Brexit deal unless their citizens are given full access to live and work in the UK, something Government sources say will not happen.

Robert Fico, Slovakia's prime minister, on Monday said that member states intend to make it "very difficult for the UK" and said Britain is "bluffing" when it says it can get a good Brexit deal.

All this is rhetoric and actually has the main impact of assisting the opposing party in the negotiation and making it less likely to reach a win/win deal. If both parties continue to hash up, both the EU and the UK will lose the negotiations. Not a great state of affairs given the vulnerable economic environment for both negotiators.