No-one starts negotiating stuff at International level. All trade negotiators will have honed their skills over many years, starting with quite trivial agreements and working their way up. Many of us in our own professional fields will have had experience on the lower and middle slopes - and the more that Brexit drags, the more I see correspondences between the process and my own experiences.
One anecdote. We'd put in the best bid for the second part of a serial contract, but it was way higher than the Client's budget. He started by instructing that we reduced the bid to the equivalent of the first part. We said we couldn't do that. He said he wouldn't give us the work. Fine, we said, but tell us quickly so we can get on with other stuff. The ping-pong went on until the order came from the very top on both sides to sit in a room on a Friday and not to come out until the deal had been struck.
Our approach was full-disclosure - an open-book tender. We were taking normal profits on each part, but at the time copper prices were as mobile as the underwear of a lady of negotiable affection, as they say. Cost risks on many other items had pushed the rates up, whilst unknowns and poor measures meant we couldn't do lump-sum prices for many of the quantities. Our base price could be reduced substantially, but only if we moved risk on price and quantity to the Client side and adopted many schedules of rates in place of lump sums. The meeting lasted from 10.00am until 11.00pm. They conceded every major point in the end, and we both went back to principals announcing a win. In the end the actual contract out-turn was within a whisker of our initial bid. Where they found the extra millions from I don't know, but they did.
It was a useful lesson for me - in not grandstanding but explaining honestly and openly why we could not agree to their demands. Unless they moved, the answer would have to be No. Things are about to get very rocky over Brexit. The Germans are utterly inflexible and determined to hurt us, and their man Selmayr inserted corruptly into the heart of the crooked Brussels cabal is turning the thumbscrews. PTSD Adonis and his hysterical chums are shrieking and throwing their skirts over their heads at home. Soros, Lord of the Flies, is using his fortune to try to destroy a Britain he hates. A fifth-column of disloyal and anti-democratic civil servants are sabotaging from within. And we have a leader whom it would be slanderous to accuse of membership of Subphylum Vertebrata. There is a deal on the table we cannot accept - not without blood on the streets. The conditions - a minute to midnight, grossly polarised parties, fear of collapse of order - in other words are perfect to achieve a workable deal. Steady the line boys - don't go to pieces.