December 21, 2016

The UK must stop negotiating with itself

The UK must stop negotiating with itself

Some people in the UK need to wake up and stop compromising our negotiating position with the EU, warns John Redwood MP.

If I went to an auction with a business partner we would not spend our time at the auction bidding against each other.  We would agree the best course of action for buying the item at the lowest price, and stick to that. Only one of us would bid. We would not advertise in advance how much we wanted the item or what our bidding strategy would be.

Many in the UK think we do need to negotiate a settlement over trade and residual financial matters with the EU when we leave. Yet there are businesses, senior officials past and present, many Opposition MPs and others who ought to know better, trying to tell the other side in advance how generous our offers might be, and trying to bid us up all the time to make better and better offers!

There is no point in making any offer until the negotiations begin. Nor should we offer to pay for things that are properly ours without paying. We have every right to leave the EU, under our own laws and under the Treaty we signed. We have every right to take back control of our laws, our money and our borders without having to pay for the privilege, and without having to dilute that control.

The only thing we need to discuss with our former partners is what new relationship we will have on departure. The main part of that is trade. I see no need to offer money or EU control of our borders in order to carry on importing from the continent. I think they will be all too relieved to be able to carry on exporting to us after Brexit. Some people in the UK need to wake up to the reality of how you do well in an auction or a negotiation. They also need to understand that no deal is better than a bad deal, as there is little we want from the EU. Our trade is not at risk, and can be pursued successfully one way or another as soon as the rest of the EU decides whether they want to pay tariffs on their exports to us or not.

4.90 avg. rating (97% score) - 30 votes
John Redwood MP
John Redwood MP
John Redwood is the Member of Parliament for Wokingham in Berkshire. He was formerly Secretary of State for Wales in Prime Minister John Major's Cabinet. He is currently Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness.
  • humourme

    Haha the other 27 could contribute, but in reality it is the Germans, Dutch, French and Italians. I can see that playing so well in those nations’ elections. The reality is that the EU needs to maintain transfers to the poorer nations – a cut would be seriously bad and even with the top 4 throwing in a bit extra, they will need UK money. Massive concessions from the EU are thus the most likely outcome assuming that pillocks like Sir Ivan are not allowed to do the negotiating.

  • digitaurus

    I agree that the EU should have conceded far more back in 2016 when a few decent concessions might have played well. I also agree that it is messy.

    My analysis, however, is that while the European Commission definitely needs the money, the remaining 27 member states of the EU can provide it if so inclined. That gives them leverage over Brussels right now. I think the EU27 have already made the decision in principal to swallow the extra funding requirement and/or make reforms necessary to reduce the funding gap. This is what gives them such a strong position at the negotiating table – and they know it.

  • humourme

    Nope, the EU will have to concede massively – no migration and a free trade deal of some sort in return for some money – a fraction of the 10 billion. It wont be emergency brake because the UK has already said no. The EU should have conceded far more back in 2016 when a few decent concessions might have played well. Instead, it’s going to be messy and the EU is not in the strong position that some assume. The UK is not Norway and the EU really needs the money.

  • digitaurus

    Yes – the weakness in the European Commission’s position is in the hole in their budget which the UK’s departure will create. The member states will also feel the loss keenly. So there might end up being some kind of deal based around our stuffing their mouths with gold – perhaps a bit like Norway, with new regulations being faxed to us every week and some kind of ’emergency break’ stitch-up on free movement of peoples. Basically the kind of deal we could have had if we had remained in the EU – when we would have also had a seat at the top table.

  • humourme

    So WTO and no money for the EU. Works for me. Won’t actually work for the EU though since a net budget cut of E10 billion is the amount that Poland gets. So either the EU attempts to negotiate in good faith to get something done in time. The EU negotiating position is far weaker than you think.

  • digitaurus

    The strength of your negotiation position is determined by your best alternative in the case of no agreement. For trade, no agreement means WTO rules. The European Commission (EC) has lined itself up to lead the negotiations and WTO rules is no skin off their nose – they’re just a bunch of bureaucrats, so that’s fine by them. They have said that “they” (the EC presumably) would only start discussing a trade deal after the UK has left the EU in Spring 2019 and they seem to be assuming that it will take many years to negotiate – the slower party dictates the pace so that seems a reasonable assumption given the fact that the EC doesn’t give a shit about a trade deal. In other circumstances, we might have expected the main exporting nation states to step in and push for a different outcome – after all, many of their companies export heavily to the UK. Unfortunately, a successful Brexit is seen as an existential threat to the entire EU project (and therefore to the skins of the politicians currently running the show) so they have zero incentive to ‘do the right thing’ for their constituents. Hell it’s not their profits, after all. EU manufacturers seem to have got the message up front and are going to be concentrating their efforts on other markets from now onwards anyway (as an added incentive the UK just got 20% poorer anyway). So everybody on the EU side is working on the assumption and expectation that it’s going to be WTO and are planning / acting accordingly. Looks like a pretty strong negotiation position to me. If we had any sense we would stop whining about a trade deal, wise up to the fact it’s going to be WTO and move on.

  • digitaurus

    True. I’m just a little nostalgic for the olden days when I got to decide which fridge to buy.

  • digitaurus

    Tariffs are just a form of domestic taxation on consumption. There is no transfer of funds from one country to another.

  • digitaurus

    “… as soon as the rest of the EU decides whether they want to pay tariffs on their exports to us or not …” What are you talking about? A tariff on imports is a tax paid by the UK consumer to the UK government. The “EU” [sic] (I presume you mean companies exporting goods or services from EU countries to the UK) wouldn’t be paying anything.

  • Bosanova

    The telegraph variety? I think you’ll find those, quite literally, grow on trees – so could be easily (and probably are already) home grown. 😉

  • Bosanova

    And even tariff free acess to markets could be done on a quid pro quo basis given that they sell more to us than we do to them. Any tariffs they imposed on British goods would be more than offset by tariffs on EU goods going the other way. But that would be a pie-shrinking exercise. Realisation that no-tariff-free-trade makes the pie bigger for all, and we all “eat” better should be the core message on that one even if, technically, we’re giving away more in tariffs charged than they would be – still no need to pay anything.

  • The_Pr1soner

    Exactly! If you’re in business here and your imports from the E.U. are taxed vs. tax-free imports from countries with which U.K. has a F.T.A., you simply switch your import source to that country! Japan can provide high-tech stuff, Chile, Oz and N.Z. for wines, meat etc. The only thing you can’t get is a Japanese Mercedes (unless you’re Alan Partridge), but then we have more car makers here than any other country in the world.

  • Greenslime

    Clegg is determined, by hook or by crook, to create a situation where the majority’s opinion is ignored. It doesn’t matter what he has done outside of politics – which is zilch anyway – he believes he is right and everyone who voted ‘Leave’ is wrong and he is committed to denying them their expressed wish.

    Why are we talking about this man as if his views matter a jot? If he loves the EU so much, he should be invited to go and live there and let those of us who believe in the United Kingdom to start the process of extracting ourselves from this corrupt, venal and sub-optimal bloc and their Napoleonic Code way of doing things.

  • captainslugwash

    be

  • captainslugwash

    Lets

  • MrVeryAngry

    Clegg? ‘Trade negotiator’? Another non-job.

  • Terry Howard

    In business? Really? Being an NED, this is being in business? In fact, Clegg’s work experience (as a trade negotiater) is better than nearly anyone’s in this respect. He hasn’t been in business either. Few of them have. David Davis is an exception – he has done a real job in a real business. Quite a while ago, but nonetheless.

  • Terry Howard

    Then maybe people with no role in this negotiation should stop trying to influence it, stop writing articles, stop giving their opinions to the media, stop getting to gether with other like-minded people and producing reports. Maybe everyone not directly involved should shut up and let the government get on with it.

    Or if there is to be discussion and agreement of the line to take in Parliament, maybe they could use this forum to attempt to exert influence , rather than the media.

  • Peter Parker

    muslims?

  • disqus_54Dk4MKqmm

    Poles?

  • MrVeryAngry

    Yup 2.

  • Take Back The Streets

    An excellent point on an excellent article. Before you go into any negotiation you always work out your best position without any agreement and any negotiated settlement must improve upon that position. In this case the best position without no negotiated agreement is WTO tariffs, no payments to EU budget, no jurisdiction of ECJ in UK, complete control over trade agreements with other nations, no right of immigration into UK by EU nationals and complete control of our fishing waters (with no EU access). So, anything we concede (payments to EU for example) must be more than offset by additional benefits (tariff free access to EU markets for example).

  • Dougie

    I’d be interested to learn if there is anything we currently import from the EU that cannot be obtained elsewhere.

  • humourme

    British opening bid: No money, no migration, single market. EU opening bid: E60 billion or single market, continued money and full migration.
    The dimwits in the UK who keep saying that the EU has the upper hand seem to think that the opening bid from the EU is a strong position – it is not, it is about as realistic as the UK opening position.

  • Mike Hunt

    Well said John, if you started a divorce you would let the professionals handle the negotiating . The bbc get so hung up on this , take for example the custom union they forget we have imported goods come in from non eu countries all the time. The process is simple duties as paid customs c79 vat documents produced . It’s not a problem

  • MrVeryAngry

    “..They also need to understand that no deal is better than a bad deal,… ” Yep. In a nutshell. You must always be prepared to walk away. But then, you’re in business as well as being an MP, so you’d know that. The likes of Cleggy and Corbyn aren’t, haven’t been and don’t.

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