Like most of us, I don’t know the half of it when it comes to the free trade agreement negotiations with the EU but, from an outsider’s perspective they don’t seem to be going well.
The Prime MInister has now said that there is no basis for negotiations and that we should prepare for a no-deal, something he has repeatedly said would not happen. I still don’t know whether this is yet another negotiating tactic, but it doesn’t seem to be a good one. As Angela Merkel was heard to comment however, you can’t negotiate through the media.
Johnson and the friendly press are accusing the EU of not acting in good faith which again doesn’t seem like a good negotiating position.
I make no secret of being a europhile, which is not necessarily the same as being in favour of the EU as an institution, and think that our future lies in ever closer ties with our closest neighbours. For me, trade is a consideration of lesser importance than social welfare, liberty and peace yet the whole argument with the EU now seems to have boiled down to trade and, for some reason, fish.
I ask myself then how the EU is not acting in good faith and shudder at the thought of having to negotiate with a government that has stated it intends to break a treaty it signed only a few months ago would things not go its own way.
Whenever I have entered into negotiations with a supplier or partner, which I accept are nowhere near the kind of negotiations that are going on , I have always started with getting to know the company better. Before we would talk about any detail I wanted to understand its motivation, what its relationship with my organization would be and whether they were trustworthy. I always asked how it made its money as this gave an indication of the relationship that we would have.
I have always subscribed to the notion that in business it is better for both sides to come out of a negotiation as winners and that trust lies at the bottom of this approach.
I have zero trust in this government and, given the choice, would have walked away from any negotiations with them before they had even started.