Monday, 26 June 2017

The art of the deal (revised and updated edition)

Until very recently, the British government's self-appointed negotiation experts wanted to make one thing very clear. You can't go into negotiations with your hands tied. The other side needs to know that you'll walk away and let the whole thing collapse if you don't get the deal you want. End of:
Theresa May has warned the European Union that she is prepared to walk away from the negotiating table as she set out her blueprint for Brexit.

In comments that were hailed by Eurosceptics, the Prime Minister told EU leaders that any attempt to “punish” Britain would be “an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe” that her Government will not accept.

She said she would rather do “no deal” than one which is a “bad deal for Britain” and said that any attempt by the EU to harm the UK would force her to change the country’s “economic model” by lowering tax and cutting regulation to compete with Brussels.
I've just noticed that the received wisdom about how to negotiate has changed, at least when it comes to passing the government's own Repeal Bill. Just in case the SNP gets any uppity ideas about no deal looking better than a bad deal for Scotland, the government's triumphant deal-maker-in chief has "cautioned" them not to block the bill and risk a chaotic "black hole":
Mr Davis yesterday gave a clear warning about what any blockage to the Brexit legislation, most notably the Repeal Bill which seeks to transfer all EU law into UK law, would mean. Cautioning that any such blockage would leave a “black hole” in the statute book, he said: “If somebody disrupts that, they are taking on themselves the responsibility for making the British statute book, British law, unworkable as we leave the EU. Do they really want to do that? I don’t think so.” 
Like most fans of "disruption", who think it's great so long as it's happening to somebody else, the great negotiator really hates it when somebody tries to disrupt his own plans.