The dummies’ guide to negotiating with the EU

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The dummies’ guide to negotiating with the EU

If David Davis and his team want a knockout punch, they need to transform their approach to negotiations. And here’s how, writes Peter Divey

The UK negotiators are in desperate need of help. They have already conceded the bathwater and the baby to the EU, with every likelihood of more goodies to follow. The upper limit for offerings seems so colossally high that it is not yet in view. The EU will continue to press because they have not yet been rebuffed.

The EU do not negotiate as such. They set up stout barriers. Then they march you into a corner and wear you down with complex and gnawing side issues. You run out of time and stamina, then you collapse and yield. The EU do not act in good faith, there is only blunt force and raw power. But a skilled boxer can defeat a puncher.

It is a simple and transparent process. Used by the EU forever. And as with others it is bamboozling and crushing the UK into basic errors and needless concessions.

But there is hope yet for a more balanced outcome. Because nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. The EU use this as a pressure point, a weapon. But the enlightened can turn this very weapon against the EU.

Let’s examine the EU’s demands, ultimatums and threats one by one. They are often revealing of weaknesses inherent in the other sides position. Why is this so important to them?

First, the UK needs to fundamentally alter its position. The “No Deal” option is badly used as a fall back threat. Turn it around. Explain to the EU that this is our starting position and that they should kindly explain how they intend to offer a better proposition than WTO terms for accessing the UK’s large and valuable market. This immediately offsets one of the EU’s favourite cramping tactics as time pressure then bears down on the EU side. It should be made clear that any tariffs they erect can be mirrored by the UK. No money need be offered. As with Canada, the marketplace in and of itself is the prize.

The Irish Border is a smoke screen. It is merely cover to hide the need for unedifying begging for money by the EU. The border situation cannot be solved by the UK because it is a foreign country. There will be a hard border unless the EU decides otherwise and the UK should immediately stop wasting excessive time. State a preference then move on. The Irish Republic will also have no say, they will do as their EU masters command. Which is why they are so noisy. The EU let them off the lead to harry at the UK’s ankles from time to time. Ignore the nipping.

On citizens rights, the EU wants the UK to accept ECJ oversight even when Brexit is finalised. Turn it down flat, especially as British citizens would have lesser status under such a set-up. Would the EU permit a reciprocal approach with the UK Supreme Court holding sway on the Continent? The EU have yet to match the UK offer on rights. Move on until they do. Call the EU out when they are stalling. Fight the PR battle just as hard as they do.

The mirage of EU “values” is laughably transparent. The EU wants the UK to “shadow” the EU’s values so that the UK cannot set up any “immoral” tax or trading advantages that leaving the stifling EU would allow. The EU can’t have departed members surging ahead, demonstrating the restrictive practices of their “open” market. Not a good look.

To summarize.

The EU are not demanding money, they are begging. Act accordingly.

Start with WTO rules as the default and eliminate the time pressure.

Minimise Irish border haggling as the UK has no say regarding the Republic.

Wait for the EU to match the UK’s offer on citizens’ rights. Refuse ECJ demands.

Deny requests for EU values “shadowing”. This bird is no longer caged.

Fight the media and PR battle as hard as the EU.

No more Mr Nice Guy. Match the EU low blow for low blow.

There you have it, my negotiating guide. I commend it to the UK negotiating team. I am willing to travel to Brussels with the team to support them. All citizens should be willing to step up when duty calls. No harm in saving tens of billions of pounds. It will cover my airfare and accommodation costs. Will they call? There is one twist in the tail yet. The MEPs will veto any deal, because they can. Verhofstadt’s moment in the sun will not be denied. Everything then becomes moot. But we are now ready for that fresh start. And a damned site cheaper it will be too.

 

4.80 avg. rating (95% score) - 30 votes
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  • Peter Divey
    Peter Divey
    Peter Divey's dormant interest in British and American politics has been reawakened by last year's Brexit referendum result and Trump's ascendency to the White House. In his spare time he enjoys playing chess and has a growing collection of vintage wrist watches.
    • Major Plonquer

      Very well put, Peter. Mostly as I’ve been advocating all along. I do international trade. I’m a Brit based in AsiaPac with HQ in Beijing. I recognize and agree with EVERY single point made here. Seen it all before – in 12 different languages.

      It was Theresa May who first branded the Tories as “the Nasty Party”. She’s exhibiting a complex here where she has a pathological need to be nice. The UK has shown throughout its history that in order to promote its own agenda, sometime nice isn’t on the cards.

      I particularly like the observation that “The EU are not demanding money, they are begging.” So, so true.

      • Peter Divey

        Thank you MP…this appears to be such a very one sided discussion, with nothing but retreat and concessions from the UK side. The necessity for this guide says everything about the abysmal failings thus far.

    • lucysdad01

      Easy, as someone once said, with your knee on their chest and your sword attheir throat. Only way to deal with bullies.

      • Peter Divey

        You need courage to fight back. Maybe Team UK have a devious hidden strategy that will bring success, perhaps they are attempting to lull the EU in to a false sense of security before unleashing a counter strike?

    • mjm6

      Brilliant article – so good to read such basic common sense. I have been looking (vainly) for a lead of this sort from Mr Davis or Dr Fox in the certain knowledge that it will not come from the PM.

      ‘Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ – allows us to disown offers already made if we deem the response inadequate. So I would not give up hope.

      From the outset I have been baffled by the UK side’s meek acceptance of the EU’s terms of ‘negotiation’. Surely we could have tabled our own, that is those set out here. Then sat back to watch the reaction.

      I do hope that someone, somewhere, with influence over the process, reads this and acts on it.

      • Peter Divey

        Thank you. The UK is the Gift Horse that just keeps on giving. It would be nice if someone in authority took notice…but the huge Brexit payment now seems to be settled policy. Johnson has confirmed that with his “off the rocks” comments.

    • Outraged Tunbridge Wells

      great observation at the end about the gap toothed twit which will provide yet another (sure to be spurned) opportunity to implement the approach you so clearly outline. ( my keyboard seems to have a problem with i’s and a’s)

      • Peter Divey

        “gap toothed twit”…i like it. Yes, i am hopeful that a veto will allow for a fresh start with a much more sensible and sturdy approach from Team UK. Wishful thinking…

        • Outraged Tunbridge Wells

          i should like to think it but not without a significant shift in thinking and probably personnel. maybe Priti can lead a pro sensible deal movement with Paterson, Redwood, JRM and others. sadly the token leavers of Alexander, Gove, Leadsom seem to prefer the trappings of office …

          • Peter Divey

            The names you mention, especially John Redwood for whom i have great respect, unfortunately will not stand up. When push comes to shove they will stay loyal to the PM. Patel has only started shouting since she left Cabinet…Johnson and Gove are useless. Incredibly, even now Brexit is not fully secure. No more than 50/50 it even happens i reckon, because Westminster is fundamentally opposed.

            • Outraged Tunbridge Wells

              I too like Redwood and wish his great intellect and talent would be used in Government but it appears that the main use for him and the few kindred spirits around him is to offer Brexiteers hope and some level of comfort that in reality will amount to nothing as we are sold out. How many opportunities do they need to turn the tables, investment in logistics and techno;ogy in our ports would be valuable in any case when the French striking season comes into being, but of course Phil doesnt want to waste money, ho ho ho

    • timbo_21

      The problem isn’t only the EU. Large parts of Parliament want us to agree to a bad deal, along with the BBC, Channel 4, Sky and 75% of the media.

      We’re going to get royally screwed and Mrs May will allow it to happen. Sadly, this means the Tories are all but finished as a political party and the UK’s ambitions to be a fully independent nation are equally screwed.

      • Peter Divey

        Yes, everything is agreed in principle already…and is drip fed out at the appropriate time. A no deal is much better than anything that the UK seems to be cooking up with the EU.

    • Bik Byro

      Great article that hits the nail on the head.

      • Peter Divey

        Thank you BB…but, alas, too late…UK has conceded on every single point.

        • Bogbrush

          True, but as you saw nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

          I agree with you that it is very straightforward. Ok, decades of poor strategic thinking have left us weak economically, and that’s never a great position to negotiate from, but they are just as bad if not worse so the relative position is acceptable.

          • Peter Divey

            I cannot quite believe what is being reported today….surely not?

            • Bogbrush

              I realy don’t know; we’re so far from the centre that all is rumour and supposition. I find my mental health is benefited by not watching the news and accepting that I can’t change it, so waiting to hear.

              Like you say, surely not?

        • Bik Byro

          And every time Danegeld Tessie gives away more of our bargaining power, it just gives the EU negotiators more emboldened confidence.

          • Peter Divey

            Yes, it is a vicious circle. Looking at £80-£100 billion all in…with all the “advantages” of Brexit stripped away. Shameful and embarrassing.

    • Captn P

      No deal is the only realistic outcome – No way the EU is going agree a deal –

      • Peter Divey

        Of course they will deal…they are getting everything they want.

    • The Banana

      Not that it was ever likely in the first place but I’m never going to vote Tory ever again if this is what they serve up as a Brexit. I’d rather vote Loony than for that rabble of utter imbeciles, cretins, and quislings.

      • Pozieres

        Consider the track record of Tory prime ministers regarding the EU; Heath took us into the (then) EEC on a prospectus that he knew to be false, Major signed us up to Maastricht without so much as a ‘by your leave’, Cameron did his level best to frighten us into remaining – not only trying to betray us but also insulting our intelligence and, finally, May has totally betrayed us with an outrageously bad deal. Vote Tory? Never! I think even Corbyn would not be able to inflict such a level of damage to our national interests.

      • Major Plonquer

        Corbyn might actually work out cheaper.

      • Peter Divey

        I am truly despondent. Your feelings are appropriate…

    • Jeremy Smith

      There is a flaw in your argument re Ireland, Peter, and that is that the DUP has the British government over a barrel. The DUP wants no border restrictions but also wants Brexit – these are incompatible positions which the government cannot resolve.

      • Peter Divey

        Only the EU can decide what happens with the Republic border. UK/DUP can agitate but ultimately they have no say.

        • The Banana

          Exactly. The EU will be a different country.

          The UK/NI should just do nothing. If there is to be a hard border let the EU build it. Hopefully with some guards with nice blue and yellow star armbands or something so we know who is responsible. If they are going to put a border there then that’s their business, not ours, all we can do is protest.

          It should be crystal clear as to why it’s there though. The UK doesn’t want one. Ireland doesn’t want one. The EU demands one. How is that the UK’s fault? it’s like blaming the rape victim for being raped.

          • Peter Divey

            A perfect way to play it. Shines a light upon the righteous…

      • fred finger

        It is the EU/Ireland that is demanding a border. With the ridiculous position of the Irish gove saying there must NOT be a border, but will block the talks going farther with getting a trade deal, which would most probably deliver a free border. Never has ‘Irish Logic’ been truer.

    • Ed Bradley

      If the UK challenges the EU’s stated positions, the weakness of the EU position will very quickly become apparent, not in relation to the UK but in relation to its member states and hundreds of interest groups that want a reasonable deal.

      The UK needs to open the debate so that they are not talking to the EU’s nominated leaders but to the leaders of the all the organisations that have a stake in the outcome.

      • Peter Divey

        The EU have been very strict to limit such opportunities. I suspect it is building organically anyway. A few more rumblings have been heard lately. It would be a perfect example of the divide and rule maxim. UK needs to be more assertive to exploit such opportunities.

        • Ed Bradley

          Exactly – and create them. For example there are many hard core Federalists who are happy to see the UK leave but also want an excellent relationship with the UK. The May government seems to view these people as the enemy! The very people who want a smooth exit for their greatest impediment to a federal state! These players are key to a fair deal.

          • Peter Divey

            The MEP’s intrigue me. I think they will bring the whole thing down. First time around anyway. Verhofstadt sees federality almost as a religion.

            • fred finger

              Please, the correct pronunciation is; ‘verhofstwat’

            • Peter Divey

              Made me laugh. The Commission are probably under more pressure from MEP’s than the UK…which shows how feeble our pushback was…looks like £55 billion or so…or are we belatedly going to show some spine?

            • fred finger

              I suggest a new comment area from you. Discussing the pro’s and con’s of the latest balance of power. i.e. Are the r27 going to break ranks and give into us because they fear losing money, or are the commission relying on a weak gov worried about their stability if it is perceived that they might throw away a deal.

            • Peter Divey

              Spot on FF…looks like some sort of shadow membership is being cobbled up. Just awful. Commission seem much stronger than our lot. Conceded on every point i think…

            • Ed Bradley

              I had work contact with a middle level Italian official in Brussels. Strong federalist. He could not understand why the UK joined the EU. There was no commitment. Why did the UK send such junior civil servants to Brussels who would be working alongside people ten, twenty or even thirty years older? People who had lived and worked in several countries in the private sector at middle and high levels before taking up Brussels appointments.

              The UK has to get out because mentally, morally, it has never been in.

            • Peter Divey

              Italy needs to be careful. EU policy is damaging and the natives have noticed. Anti-EU sentiment is rising. The Euro has been imposed with brutal disregard to fiscal convergence. Italy has been left to deal with the cost and consequences of immigration.

    • getahead

      All statements of the bleedin’ obvious Peter. Sadly, it is not the negotiating team you should be addressing but their controllers, Hammond and May.
      Hammond is blatantly Remainer in persuasion, and clearly works for the EU.

      • EppingBlogger

        Clearly all faults with the negotiation, as with everything else in Government, must be laid atthe feet of Ministers. But practically I suspect the civil service is drivingthis and too many (all?) Ministers have been captured by them.

        The civil service will be whispering to the EU and at the last minute they will insist to Ministers there is no choice but to Remain in (sorry! to have a lengthy transition period).

        The consequences of this must be made clear by business and my the voters. I completely appreciate that Tory Party members will go along with anything their leaders tell them about the EU, as they always have. At least, until they resign, as I did, and join another party.

        • Peter Divey

          The Civil Service have massive influence, and we know where there true loyalties lie. Most are EU puppets who cannot conceive of any other status quo, there will be stalling…and outright sabotage. The Tory Government do not pay any attention to party members…and are trying hard to ignore the Ref. voters.

      • Peter Divey

        Indeed…but seemingly beyond the wit and will of team UK. The flame of hope is not extinguished yet. But almost.

    • Jolly Radical

      “Shadowing the EU’s values” is the most bizarre of the lot.

      “We promise not to compete with you . . . for the rest of human history.”

      It would actually mean passing a law to abolish human innovation and progress.

      Stranger things have happened.

      • Major Plonquer

        The EU are terrified that the UK will drop or even abolish Corporation Tax and Volkswagen will move to Shropshire.

      • Peter Divey

        I believe this is the true point that everything is revolving around. If the UK leaves and powers ahead…the dam will burst.

    • fred finger

      Nothing much to add, except to add to the fight vision, in having May in your corner, forever throwing the towel in.

      • Peter Divey

        Maybe the UK is relying on the MEP veto to re-boot and start afresh…nah, too much to hope for!

      • ClickBait

        The Conservative party must realise that May must go. Their problem is timing. Perhaps they are waiting for her inevitable towel and the resulting public outcry in order to have a reason to act.
        I hope so.

        • Peter Divey

          Brexit is tough work. If it goes well the Tories as a whole can claim credit, if not the PM can be blamed. Cowardice really that no one else will stand up.

          • ClickBait

            It figures. But I hope you are wrong.

            Now that Corbyn has set an examaple as a bold man of principle who has attracted huge votes, maybe the Conservatives will smell the change in wind direction for the coffee odours

            • Peter Divey

              Principles? Better late than never i guess. Priti Patel has said she would have told the EU where to get off…easy to snipe from the backbenches.

            • ClickBait

              Politicos are undecided as to whether a strong show of principles is career-friendly. They see Thatcher and Corbyn but do not have the balls to follow.

              And there are people like May who have the balls, but think that caution wins the day. Probably too much church-going in her case – “Mea culpa, mea culpa !”. Yes OK Theresa but not with my future at stake.

            • Peter Divey

              Fair analysis. May is tough. Strange that she wasn’t cautious about a GE. Mr May perhaps?

            • ClickBait

              No, She is just out of touch. A bad politician

            • Peter Divey

              Just agreed to pay £55 billion…

            • ClickBait

              Thanks. Amended

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