Monday, 7 November 2016

opportunity to raise a few brexit plan points?

Teresa May is having to deal with a few in-house politicians who are more about the politics than the practicalities of a Brexit plan.

The lack of the plan is already apparent. A plan would have a heading about legal and constitutional matters.

A plan would recognise the communication strategy to handle both the necessary outward communication as well as the secret stuff that really forms part of the negotiation fallback.

Most plans would also show a critical path through the series of events that are to take place.

We don’t even get the long and short of it. Instead we get Brexit means Brexit. Hard and soft. Per-lease.

Meanwhile the frog-man and others are stirring street fighting whilst Jeremy Corbyn, in his interview with the Sunday Mirror, said Labour could vote against triggering article 50 if the Prime Minister does not agree to Labour’s “Brexit bottom lines”.

Now we are hearing about the one liner motion to get Brexit through Parliament.

It’s a bit of a mess, really, which I’m sure other countries are watching with some quiet glee. Michael Moore references it in his Trumpland documentary as an example of unintended consequences, just before he shows the USA January 2017 with Trump video.

The actual Exit is also two separate things. There’s the exit itself, scheduled over two years. In effect UK gets back its legislation and does this initially by a quick Word ‘change all’ of all the headers and footers on the European stuff to make it UK-specific. Maybe delete the bit about cucumbers. Those changes will no doubt become an industry in their own right.

Whilst the busy-ness of that exit process takes place, there’s the other business of restructuring all of the relationships.

Canada took seven years to agree something with Europe and even then it was held up by a small bloc of Walloons who dug their heels in.

The UK has far more complications because of all the history and aspirations of the various countries in play. In particular, the French and the Germans have deep interests. For example, they both want part of the finance sector. Paris and Frankfurt are already bidding. Same with the cars. Brussels has already asked for the innards of the recent Nissan UK arrangement to be explained.

Benelux will continue to look for an angle. They house the Commission in Brussels. Luxembourg still does - ahem - specialised things with finance making its inhabitants one of the top 3 richest GDP per head in the world.

Netherlands is a trading nation also inside the top 15 GDP, with its strong ties to Germany and increasingly, for imports, to China.

The list can go on, but there, Mrs May’s politicians, at least I’ve started the Force Field Analysis for you. That’s another part of the Plan.

Mrs May also has to get the UK outside of the EU before the next election run-up due in mid-2020.

The EU’s quiet agenda will be to make sure that the UK cannot be seen to have gained any advantage from leaving the EU. It must appear to be worse off as a result. Otherwise the EU itself is threatened, particularly because of the currently restless members such as Netherlands, the currently fragile Italy and even France after their 2017 election which could feature Sarkozy vs. Le Pen.

Throughout this the EU of 27 members and 500 million inhabitants have the easier end of the negotiation. At its simplest they can just run down the clock. Complex international bureaucracies won’t baulk at the thought of a two year countdown.

Even with the UK vote last 23 June, it could be 30 March 2017 before the Article 50 button is pressed. That’s just over 9 months. And only one system in the process.

Then we get the negotiated transition. Mrs. May might be thinking five years. If Canada took seven years, then that probably becomes the new table stakes, despite there being a template already available from the Canadians.

Alongside it will be the payments that UK is expected to make to the EU. My guess is that they will expect something akin to the current net amount paid inside the EU to now be paid when outside the EU. The cost of exit becomes an ongoing fee equivalent to membership. As it is, Osborne mis-judged a projected budget surplus which has turned into prolonged deficit, with around a £25 billon hole expected by 2020. That is before any Brexit costs get added. Right now, Hammond must be working out how to spin this for the autumn statement.

It's also where the negotiating strategy needs more than one level. It should be possible for the negotiators to show something of the process to appease the critics without giving away secrets.

At a simple level there’s the structure of the negotiation itself. Alignment of goals is one interesting area. Remembering negotiation basics, there’s the useful grid to illustrate the tensions and the potential for gains and losses.

Then there’s the tiered approach to the actual negotiations, which may often include a fact-finding round before the real negotiations get under way.

Unpacking this stuff is hardly a secret, but can be a lot better than the ‘nothing contributed’ mentality of many commentators.

So here’s my example of a tiering, although I’m not going to introduce a starting point.

1. No concessions
2. No further concessions
3. Making only deadlock-breaking concessions
4. High realistic expectations with systematic concessions
5. Concede first
6. Problem solving
7. Goals other than to reach agreement
8. Moving for closure
9. Combining strategies

I can start to see a toolkit emerging.

• A timetable.
• A list of major exit topics
• A list of major ‘new world’ topics
• A UK political Force Field Analysis
• An EU political Force Field Analysis
• A Rest of World Force Field Analysis
• Factfinding requirements
• A preferred negotiation stance
• A desired outcome
• A series of options
• Targeted outcome scenarios
• An approach to creating agreements

A defined set of phases for the process with durations and names like:

Stage 1 : Factfinding and strategy definition 6 months
Stage 2 : Initial exchanges 6 months

Stage 3: First Wave preliminary negotiation 3 months
Stage 3.1 : First Wave Options : 3 months
Stage 3.2 : Negotiation First Wave Options : 3 months
Stage 3.3 : Agreement First Wave 3 months

(Two Year Marker)

Stage 4: Second Wave preliminary negotiation 3 months
Stage 4.1 : Second Wave Options : 3 months
Stage 4.2 : Negotiation Second Wave Options : 3 months
Stage 4.3 : Agreement Second Wave 3 months

Stage 5: Third Wave preliminary negotiation 3 months
Stage 5.1 : Third Wave Options : 3 months
Stage 5.2 : Negotiation Third Wave Options : 3 months
Stage 5.3 : Agreement Third Wave 3 months

(Four Year Marker)
Stage 6 : Statement of degree of completion of Main Topics 3 months

Stage 7-9: Ongoing second tier topics preliminary negotiation 3 months
Stage 7-9.1 : Ongoing second tier topics : 3 months
Stage 7-9.2 : Negotiation Ongoing second tier topics : 3 months
Stage 7-9.4 : Agreement Ongoing second tier topics 3 months

(Seven Year Marker)

There’s a whole lot more to this, but the difference is, that it is about defining a structure and making a pragmatic start.

Oops. That’s probably not ‘politically’ correct

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