Sunday, November 19, 2017

Why David Davis and his Tory mates make such piss-poor negotiators in the Brexit affairs.

An old merchant was lying on his death-bed, and he called his only son to his side.

"Son" he said, " I am going to teach you the most important thing I have ever known in life. When a man comes to you to do business he wants to screw you for as much as he can. You, in turn don't want to pay any more than you absolutely need to. You ask him his price. He says 'Ten'. He means Eight, so he wants Six, so its worth Four, so you bid him Two..."

The other night on 'Question Time', you know that dreadfully slanted and biased, pro-Right-Wing Tory soapbox, usually packed with UKIPpers and other swivel-eyed Brexiteers, Nadim Zahawi, Tory M.P and well-known rent-a-quote opined on the way in which the Brexit affair should be being negotiated. He prayed in aid, so he said, his years of negotiating as a businessman, and in so doing he, like so many other Tories displayed his total ignorance of the true nature of the Brexit discussions.

Tory businessmen always seem to think that life is a simple process of doing deals, and that their commercial expertise fits them well for negotiating the UK exit policy. Their uni-linear minds only think one way and they believe that by holding their cards close to their chest and bullying the other side by threats of walking away from the negotiating table, that this will somehow bring the deal home, advantageously to them.

David Davis maintains this line in commercial tarradiddle all the time. Ask him why we cannot be shown the contents of the so-called 50 secret dossiers (which in truth I do not believe exist) and he says we mustn't display our negotiating hand. Ask him about the price for our divorce bills and he says that if we disclosed that figure, then the Europeans would only ask for more. And so it goes.

When we come to dissect the UK approach to the Brexit negotiations, we quickly come to the glaring conclusion that we don't have any real proposals to make at all, and we are just simply waiting for the EU team to lay their hand on the table, so we can find out what they want us to stump up, and then hope to finesse our way round it.

In so doing, our people forget that it is we, the UK, who are asking to leave the EU, we are the ones conducting the proposals for our case to be given a fantastically beneficial deal, but without belonging to the club or making any meaningful contribution, and that therefore it is for us to lay out our suggestions and ideas, and convince the EU team that we have a good case for them to answer.

But no, like a rabid dog in a manger, and on the basis that this is super-effective negotiating expertise, we have hidden our hands and refused to make serious proposals, so much so that it is increasingly infuriating the EU team, who feel that they are being required to negotiate blindly.

And what we are seeing are the usual predictable tactics of the British businessman in a commercial deal, waiting to see who will blink first.

But this isn't a commercial sale agreement, and there are significant differences between the two concepts.

First of all, the EU side doesn't want us (in principle) to leave at all. They would far prefer us to stay as members. So they don't come to the table with any desire to win or lose. If we want to go, well they won't try to stop us, they can't, so no sweeteners there are possible, but they won't lift  a finger to help us. So there is no need for them to be accommodating and move towards making our decisions any easier. This is what so many whining, ugly Brit 'Leavers' don't seem to comprehend. Davis and his team keep moaning on about why the EU  are not being more flexible and coming round to discussing a new trading agreement, but why should they? They don't need to, they already have a superb trading agreement with us, and nothing they put in its place will be any better, and for them it will be a loss-making deal, so what possible motivation do they have for having any discussions at all about a new trading deal?

Davis grizzles on about the EU needing to start talks about Trade, but until such time as we have answered their outstanding questions about the management of our legal commitments to them, what motivation do they have to believe that we will keep our word?

So, secondly, before we can leave, we have to settle all our debts. These are legally-binding agreements we have already made as members in full and good standing, and upon which the EU has already made commercial and financial forward commitments. Those will have to be paid.

How much are they? Well we should be able to calculate them to within the odd million or two because we will know how much we have committed to, and this really shouldn't be a difficult decision or process.

Theresa 'No Mates' made a derisory first proffer at the Florence meeting, but it was so transparently stupid and unrealistic that no-one in Brussels was going to take her seriously. It was the political equivalent of bidding 'Two'! Everyone present knew that, no-one was fooled, no-one was impressed and all it did was reinforce the image of Britain being a nation of skinflints who would renege on the deal at the end!

More difficult will be the decision about the Irish border, but some sensible and workmanlike discussions with the Irish Prime Minister should be capable of coming to a general agreement in principle, upon which we could leave the civil servants on both sides of the divide to finalise the small print in detail, after all, it's what they are good at. The Eire Government needs to be kept firmly on-side because we don't want them vetoing any final deal that might eventually be put on the table.

The future of EU citizens in the UK and the other way round should be the work of 5 minutes discussion. How long does it take to say 'everything will remain exactly as it was for those citizens on either side  of the Channel who were in situ as of (date to be agreed)"? As this is still an issue about EU status, it is natural that the relevant Court of Arbitration should be the European Court. Even David Davis is now willing to agree that issue in certain cases.

I know I have perhaps (over) simplified these points somewhat, but not a lot. But Theresa No Mates and David Davis have turned these discussions into a 5 ring circus and they are still dragging their feet, making this country look vacillatory and stupid.

If we had decent sensible commercial calculations based on logic, fact and bounded by law, then armed with these  figures we could begin to have sensible talks with Brussels.

We have lost sight of our end-game in all this. David Davis is so keen to keep on trying to pretend that he has got bigger 'cojones' than his opposite numbers. he keeps on bidding 'Two', and is then surprised when M.Barnier tells him to 'fuck off' , or whatever the equivalent phrases is in educated French ('Va te faire foutre). when in fact he needs a totally different strategy altogether.

You see, Davis is already well and truly hoist by his own petard.

The EU know we want to leave, and our stupid politicians keep telling the world we are leaving. They now even know the date on which we are going (maybe we could tell them the time as well and leave them in no doubt whatsoever!

This is the negotiating equivalent of going into a deal meeting and saying to the other side that if we don't have the deal we want by 4.00pm we have to leave. If the other side doesn't want to deal and is in no hurry to agree, then we can go whistle up our kilts for any deal at all.

This is so stupid I find it incredible that it was ever mentioned, but of course we started the clock ticking when we exercised Article 50. We didn't need to do that, it was a futile gesture, but it was done to keep the Brexiteers, the Little Englanders and above all the new 'bastards' in the Right-Wing Tory ranks happy, but from that moment, trying to negotiate this deal in the same way as buying a factory or a hotel chain was deeply flawed.

If we really wanted to come out of this mess with any semblance of credibility, we should first of all have to have started off by finding a way to morally commit the EU into wanting to do a deal with us. The EU prides itself on being on the moral high ground and they would not want the world to view them as morally corrupt.

If I were negotiating this deal, I would have kept away from the exercise of Article 50 until such time as I had all the best possible answers to the burning questions that I knew the EU would ask, money, Irish question and EU citizens rights. I would have made sure I had the best possible views on the divorce bill, crunched by accountants, lawyers, academics, main businessmen, CBI etc, etc, and then, and only then, when I had both a best case scenario and a worst case scenario, with which I could live with dignity, would I have started negotiations.

Within the first week I would have informed Brussels, formally and in writing what my proffer was to settle the divorce bill, and I would have made it clear that the amount payable would be settled on the last day of the Article 50 process, but conditional upon and when and only when, we had a commercial deal that suited both sides.

If they wanted to haggle, well I would know how far my worst case scenario could extend, but I would have made it clear that the deal was not intended to be open to too much negotiation. If they then started to haggle needlessly, then I would know they were not serious and I could hold out on the tabled offer. As time slipped by, the Europeans would have found themselves under such pressure from member states to settle that a settlement would have followed, of that I am certain. Once that had been achieved, they would have had nothing more to hold out for and the rest would eventually have become achievable. Perhaps not in every detail, but to a very large extent.

The beauty of this model is that we the UK could not have been accused  of being vacillatory nor unwilling to deal, and we would have been seen as being strong and purposeful (I deliberately avoided the word 'stable').

As it is, we are now royally fucked because we have told so many lies and have beaten around the bush for so long that the EU does not believe us.

Getting this deal done in principle should have been achievable within a couple of weeks, following this model. This would not mean that all the details which still needed to be ironed out would have been completed, but that will be the case now, in any event, and we haven't even reached a workable deal yet, and show no signs of so doing.

My point is that the Tory Government and its dinosaur-like members have always been difficult about our European membership. To these men and women who are so keen to see us crash out and burn, they have always hated Europe. They are the direct descendants of John Major's 'Bastards' from the Maastricht negotiations. Any sign of being willing to work hand in glove with Europe is seen as a sign of masculine political weakness, so our negotiators have to grind the EU noses in the dirt, kicking them in the balls all the while, screaming all the while' '...There, take that you dirty foreigner and let that be a lesson to you..." 

They just don't seem to realise that the people they are really hurting are the rest of us Brits who don't want to leave the EU, who want to stay and work within the best commercial arrangement we have had in this country in my lifetime, and of which we could have been the de facto leader, if they did but have the sense to see.

We must continue to stand up to them, call out their lies, and stick out for an outcome which still leaves us full members of the EU. A majority of people canvassed in the country now think that leaving the EU will be an expensive mistake and there is still much time to go. Never mind the 'will of the people', this was another lie based upon fraud, falsehoods and deceits, and manufactured by a small coterie of wealthy men who want to damage the traditional Parliamentary democracy in this country.

We are all Europeans now, it's time for the Little Englanders and the swivel-eyed Brexiteers to grow up.
  

No comments: