Shut up and set the table, please!

Shut up and set the table, please!

It is clear to me that the main stream press and the leaders of our Government have not been trained as negotiators. If they had, then they would not be saying what they are saying.

Irrespective of whether you are for or against Brexit what should concern you is the process. At present every time a newspaper prints an article or a politician opens their mouth they say something that makes the situation for the negotiators worse. They are, in effect, breaking the bats of the cricket team that they are about to put into bat.

David Davies’ recently described the process as more complicated than three-D chess and that is correct in my view. However, when newspapers or politicians speak they make it sound so easy, don’t they?

Britain will engage with negotiators that are controlled by 27 separate Parliaments. Some of those Parliaments’, as in the case of Belgium, will need approval of their positions from Regional Governments.  Therefore, delay is inevitable and plans for such would be wise.

Mrs May has been very good at trying to keep all her cards close to her chest. I applaud her for that, but this weekend she hinted that a “Hard Brexit”. That is fine, if that is what we want but it would have been better to set the table first. What do I mean by this?

  1. List all the things we wish to discuss. You can share this with Parliament and the other side. Make this list as large as you can: the more pieces on the table the more opportunity for compromise and exchange.
  2. Ask the other side for their list.
  3. Now you can positively engage on working out the ideal and the most likely outcome for each issue.
  4. Talk in a positive voice about agreeing a deal that hits some of the hot buttons of the other side: –
    • “You want to keep the European Arrest Warrant”;
    • “You hope that all EU citizens will remain in the UK”;
    • “You would like UK citizens to remain in Europe with the same benefits they have at present, thanks to our Partners”.

This will build trust and aid the tone of the negotiations.

The papers and politicians are like friends and family members watching a divorce, standing at the side lines saying “they were never any good”; “you get all you can”. It would be more helpful if they realised others are involved and took the approach “How can we make it less painful for all concerned, as we have to continue living together in the future, even if in a different way. “

Let’s be positive, set the table, shut up and enable the negotiators to do their jobs.

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