Negotiation Tips: How to Control a Negotiation Like Brexit
July 27, 2016
UK’s Negotiations With The EU Provide a Ringside Seat on Negotiation Practice
It is not often we can sit alongside a major negotiation and get insights into what works and what doesn’t in negotiations. But the current Brexit talks (or alleged lack of them) offer some real insights you can bring to your own business negotiations.
Even before the referendum was held in the UK our EU partners were telling us they expected us to implement Article 50 within hours or days of the vote for a Brexit. This is what they wanted as the uncertainty brings them problems and they want things sorted. But the rules say we cannot leave until we implement Article 50; it doesn’t say when that should be. The reality is that if we rush into this we are playing into the hands of the EU. By waiting we maintain power and the lesson for everyone here si those that control the timing hold the best hand of cards!
The EU then said it expected the new Prime Minister to go for Article 50 within hours of being elected. They were trying to control the timong .. but there si no reason for the UK to dance to their tune. What Mrs May did do was to go to meet with Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland and give her a seat in the negotiations. Note she didn’t say an influential seat .. it is just a seat. That took pressure off of the UK from the Scots. Tehn she went to see Mrs Merkel in Germany and, despite being told previously there could be no discussions before Artilce 50 is invoked, they talked. Mrs May has said that Brexit menas Brexit .. but not what theat means and the Germans are wise enough not to push too hard. In fact there is a tacit agreement between Mrs Merkel and Mrs May that nothing much wil happen before Christmas .. except maybe some quiet talks behind the scenes away from the media.
Then it was off to France where talks were held with the French .. who had insisted that no talks would be held prior to Article 50. Mmmm intersting how the rules are changing.
Why Visit the Opposition?
Why did Mrs May visit these three people? Well simply because in negotiations you can control a lot by being the person to choose the venue. Those visited regard it as a posotive in that they have been visited. But the reality is that if you visit you have controlled many aspects such as timing (you play the time of the visit off beteween the French and Germans in ths case by saying you can only come at a given date as tha tis the only time the other party is free. But this means they have to agree to meet when you say). Psychologically this gives you a big advantage.
The other thing is the timescale. Mrs May acted swiftly before the others could build a position. She may well have also said it is this date or you’ll have to wait until I’ve visited other countries!
Think about that from thre French or German perspective .. they get left out until Mrs May has seen the smaller EU partners. Neither the French or Germansd could contemplate that being public! So they had to agree to meet with Mrs May.
The Next Brexit Negotiation Move
Mrs May and the UK has time on their side. No one can make the UK invoke artilce 50. So if they want her to keep to the After Christmas date they have to comply behind the scenes. They now have to have some prelimary discussions. And it appears the French have already agreed that passport checking on the French side of the Channel will continue .. didn’t they previously threaten to stop this?
The UK has yet another ace up its sleeve. Not only does it get to choose when to invoke Brexit it also has the right to withdraw the invocation of Article 50. Think about that. It sort of controls all the discussions by simply being able to say it wishes to change its mind at any time in the two year period of negotiation.
A Second Referedum in the UK?
Many people in the UK want a second referendum. But there aren’t likely to get one … YET. But once the negotiations are over or near complete the UK can go back to the people and say this is what we’ll get if we proceed; do you still want to proceed?
The fundamental pillars of the EU say no single market unless you accept freedom on movement. This seems to be non negotiable. But the need for a rapid invocation of Article 50 was non negotiable according to many .. and that has been proved to be ill founded. The refusal to hold discussions before article 50 has been disproved. So who knows what the UK might yet get. It holds a lot of very good cards in its hand.
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