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Thursday, 7 June 2018

Steady the line, boys ...

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.         

35 comments:

Poisonedchalice said...

Raedwald - you reminded me so much of my days in telecoms, negotiating a multi-million deal with M&S. So many vested interests blocking the way forward, but we got there in the end. My biggest single deal of my entire 40 year career!

Britain is a country (unlike France) that is built on small business and it is the small businesses that are preparing themselves for whatever the outcome and what small businesses need right now is a dramatic reduction in red tape from Brussels. Here are some fast facts:

• Over 99% of businesses are Small or Medium Sized businesses – employing 0-249 people
• 5.5 million (96%) businesses were micro-businesses – employing 0-9 people. Microbusinesses accounted for 33% of employment and 22% of turnover.

However, large businesses and public sector and the ones with the lobby and the ear of the government and there lies the juxtaposition. One of the things that really rankles with the EU is the stated fact that Britain is the most honest place in the world to do business - and that fact really bugs the shit out of them.

Right now, we should be prepared to walk out of the negotiating room and slam the door behind us. WTO, and a free world ready to trade with us will be fine thanks.

English Pensioner said...

The problem is that the Civil Service has no experienced negotiators, which is why someone experienced in negotiation should have been put in charge of Brexit.

jack ketch said...
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jack ketch said...
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jack ketch said...

in not grandstanding but explaining honestly and openly why we could not agree to their demands.

A few months back Farage met with Barnier and afterwards came out and said the most telling thing: "they just don't understand Brexit". A more damning indictment of May, Davis and the yUK 'negotiating' team there has not been. The EU however has explained honestly (yes there's a contradiction in terms) and openly (an even greater contradiction in terms for the EU) why they could not agree to the yUK's demands, blackmail and whinging.

Apparently DD has finally understood -judging by his speech yesterday bemoaning the EU's desire to defend 'legal precedents' (as if sticking to international agreements was a minor thing of little import and not the very basis for all that international trade the BrexSShiteurs think will still be coming the yUK's way when May turns us into a pariah state.)

Anonymous said...

Steady the buffs but prepare for war.


Ooops sorry I meant real OUT and only OUT and that means out of the ECJ-ECHR all else is bollocks ie still in. On the other stuff, they'll trade, they cannot afford not to and if they won't well that's OK, we'll play Brinkmanship.

And fuck Westminster - too.

Budgie said...

English Pensioner, The civil service has 47 years experience of negotiating with the EU or its forerunners. You don't think it is Ministers who negotiate do you? The FCO and the relevant Ministries' civil servants negotiate, and the Minister signs on the dotted line.

It's not lack of negotiating skills that is the problem, it is the fact that our civil service negotiators have overweening pride in their "soft power" and have gone native in Brussels. Witness the "KitKat" comments - that wasn't an aberration, that is the norm.

Budgie said...

Jack Ketch said: "... as if sticking to international agreements was a minor thing ...". Well, it is for the EU as seen by: the EU saving the Euro by ignoring its own rules; Target2 not being reconciled; and Article 3(5); just to name three.

Moreover, whilst the UK still has parts of its sovereignty intact, as a nation under international law, we have the right to abrogate any treaty we choose. Since we are unlikely to unsign Vienna we must comply with its provisions whilst abrogating any other treaty. That includes the EU treaties.

Budgie said...

Raedwald, As ever I am bewildered by your unwarranted optimism. This is politics, not commerce, and is therefore a lot more complex because there are fewer external boundaries (buyers and sellers have quite restricted intentions by comparison). A deal is not the aim - independence is.

Remain has "lost" because by losing the vote the consequence is the UK will not be remaining in the EU under current conditions; nor will ever rejoin under current conditions.

But Leave has not "won". Far from it. There will be no deal which confirms our independence, from which all other benefits flow, which was the prime aim of Leave voters. Indeed both the Tories and Labour are desperately scrambling to make us a colony. Today's AEP piece in the D.Tel is in my view more realistic:

"The quixotic bid for British independence has failed. There will be no return to full sovereign and democratic self-rule in March 2019, or after the transition, or as far as the political eye can see. Britain will be bound and hemmed until the latent contradictions of such a colonial settlement cause a volcanic national uprising, as they surely must.

The Westminster class is edging crablike towards a double embrace of the EU single market and the customs union, the full EU package but without a veto in the European Council, or Euro-MPs with heft in the dominant blocs of Strasbourg, or judges on the European Court ...
" [pay walled].

Mr Ecks said...


AEP--is a cowardly wanker.

Yeah the scum are trying to sell us out.

But the Fish Faced Cow is still on a knife edge.

Nor do the middle class well-off Remainiac scum fancy a dose of Corbog's Venezuela-time capers. Because his dirty fingernails will be into their prosperous hides from minute one never mind day one.

Cultural Marxism sounds cool when they know it the little bloke who will suffer and have his life and women attacked.

But Grandpa Death and the Gang will bring in 5 million more imports to insure ZaNu can't be voted out again.

And that's more than enough to see them preying on the middle class as they already have on the white working class. Sweden and Germany show the pattern.

So if she sells us out it is time to make this nation uncontrollable.

John Vasc said...

Budgie, Civil servants vaunting their 'soft power' and 'going native' in Brussels - that's not negotiating in anyone's book. All they're doing is making an agreeable life for themselves and their offspring.

We should have hired in some toughies from Oz, NZ or the US, and paid them by results.

Dan said...

To be honest there is every reason here for optimism since the one thing the EU's bureaucrats are really, really good at is kicking the can down the road. They don't often solve problems, but they ain't half bad at postponing them.

This time they are approaching a crunch point. They cannot act without knowledge, and the knowledge they need is how much money they can get out of a deal, so that next year's budget can be set and new tax arrangements can be put into place. As things stand, they have a Sword of Damocles over their heads, namely the No-Deal Brexit.

All we have to do is communicate to our politicians that they need to set in motion preparations for a no-deal Brexit, and do so seriously. There are easily enough spies in the UK government for word of this to get back to Brussels, and though the money needed to do this will be large, it won't be wasted. As soon as we seriously prepare for a no-deal Brexit, that puts the Brussels side on the spot: deal or land in the smelly.

The EU needs a certain budget in order to function, and if it doesn't have at least a portion of that whilst it dreams up new taxes, then the only way to proceed is to cut the workforce drastically, cut the outgoings in the EU budget and then dream up a new tax. Bureaucrats do not like shrinking their empires, so this is a last resort.

RAC said...

All the fuss about how the Irish border is going to work, maybe Southern Ireland should rethink whether it wants to remain in the eu. The eu post Brexit will not be the eu of ten years ago. Once one if the prime milch cows has gone and one or two others wavering, payments from the remaining vassals will have to go up. From a news article of 2009.........

"Ireland was the only EU member that gave its citizens an opportunity to vote directly on the treaty, and they had rejected it last year in a 53.4 percent to 46.6 percent vote. AP observed that last year’s rejection was “fueled by fears that an emboldened EU would force neutral Ireland to raise its business taxes, join a European army and legalize abortion.”

.....so in the fullness of time how's that working out.

Budgie said...

Mr Ecks, John Vasc, Dan, You're as bad as Raedwald. You are seeing what ought to be, not what is. These are all the assumptions of the Leave campaigns in July 2016. Leave thought we'd won.

70% of the HoC voted Remain. The ethos of the (political stream) of the civil service is Remain. There's a lot more where Olly Robbins came from. The PM, proud, shifty, procrastinating, Mrs May is the hostage of the establishment Remains even if she was of the calibre of Mrs Thatcher.

We aren't prepared for a WTO deal Brexit (ie what is incorrectly called a no-deal Brexit). And we are not going to prepare for a WTO deal either under May or Corbyn (both more likely PMs than anyone else).

We can't solve the problem until we're prepared to recognise there is one first.

TrT said...

I'm selling

Mays going to **** up brexit
Corbyn will let her.

She'll plod along as a lame duck for another couple of years after that, until forced to call an election and the worst of the fall out passes.
Corbyn will steam roller to victory and 5 years of 3 days a week of electricity and rationed bread later.....

Dave_G said...


If, under God-alone-knows what circumstances, Brexit is reversed, how much longer would the EU exist anyway?

If the UK leaving doesn't hasten the inevitable collapse then Italy? Greece? Spain? - the Catalan issue is on the rise once again, the Euro?

Populism - or as it is correctly known 'the will of the people' - cannot be ridden roughshod - at least, not for any length of time. History shows what happens when the masses are ignored.

The European project is finished bar the shouting, the collapse, the distress and the war that will inevitably follow.

All that the UK can do (hopefully) is be one step ahead of what is to come and minimise the impact at home. We've been dragged into more conflicts than we deserve - we don't need to be part of a warring Europe.

Mr Ecks said...



What are you selling Budgie?

I know May and her SOS crew are the problem.

Apart from the fact it seems that no one has the balls to front the fuckers.

I am pig-sick of writing and emailing the cunts without even a reply.

We are reaching the point were more is needed. But what?

Devoting our efforts and brainpower to that question is what we should be about rather than bemoaning the situation.

Michael said...
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Michael said...

When I worked for the hardest contracting Managing Director I've ever met, he told me that if, after an order had been placed with us, and within 24 hours he didn't have copies of at least ten claims on his desk, then the deal hadn't been the right one in the first place.

We could easily do that, and also let the civil service spend their paper-clip hours dealing with the claims! Job done, they get 'work' and the UK gets rid of the dross of the most corrupt organisation ever concocted by devious politicians!

I recognise so much in your post, Raeders! Takes me back...

Cuffleyburgers said...

As usual Budgie is right.

Ecks - we all know May and her civil service are the problem, but short of taking up pitchforks wtff do you think you're going to do about it?

As far as I'm concerned at this stage any sort of brexit and certainly an EEA brexit is better than staying in.

For the 10 millionth time neither Norway nor Switzerland are in the EU in any way shape of form and they are the richest nations in Europe.

For us that would be good spot to sit and watch the rest of the EU go to fuck in a handcart.

If May had had the wit to go for it from the start it would have been a much more sensible approach than what she did do.

Which is why for me there is no doubt she is a traitor, and when the dust settles is a prime candidate for HD&Q along with half the cabinet and most of the HoL.

I commented at more length in this here: http://www.homoitalicus.it/2018/06/06/dismal-may-in-death-spiral/

DeeDee99 said...

Thank you for the anecdote Raedwald. But from my perspective it looks like Theresa May and her utterly useless team are playing the part of the company and the EU/Germany is playing the part of bidder.

So the outcome won't be anything remotely like what we voted for.

And the reason we're in this position is because May, Hammond, over half the Cabinet, most of Parliament and the entire senior Civil Service are Remainers who don't want a free, independent United Kingdom. They daren't overturn the result of the Referendum for fear of the consequences of our stitched-up "democracy." They daren't hold a second one for fear of an ever larger vote for leave. So they're overturning it by deliberately failing to prepare for a No Deal and treacherous "negotiating."

When the treason has been committed, May will resign so she doesn't have to face the electoral consequences and the Conservative Party Grandees will ensure we get an EU-sceptic Leader (probably Javid) to try and retain the betrayed Brexit-voting votes ..... safe in the knowledge that the deal has been done and we're stitched up like a kipper.

Johnson, Gove, Davis and the ERG must stick the knife in her now.

jack ketch said...

Conservative Party Grandees will ensure we get an EU-sceptic Leader (probably Javid)

Brexit means BrexStan.


rapscallion said...

I'm more inclined to Dave_G's point of view.

Brexit will just drag on and on and on.

For the EU, it's over. From the Baltic to the Mediterranean - Poland. Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria and now Italy. All down to one subject - uncontrolled mass immigration. One would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at Merkel, who loves the project so much that she should be the arbiter of it's destruction.

For jack ketch - whan Farage said "they just don't understand Brexit" - he was talking about Barnier et al. Not May or Davis. You are being economical with the truth.

Radders - love the expression "but at the time copper prices were as mobile as the underwear of a lady of negotiable affection" which I translate as "up and down like a whore's drawers"

jack ketch said...


For jack ketch - whan Farage said "they just don't understand Brexit" - he was talking about Barnier et al. Not May or Davis. You are being economical with the truth.


Think you may have glanced too quickly at my comment. My point was that after so many months of 'negotiations' if May et al hadn't managed to get the EU to understand then that was May's failing. Just as Raeders had to sit the other side down and explain openly and honestly so that they would understand. Really is negotiating 101.

Budgie said...

Fifteen years ago, almost to the day (20-06-2003), I wrote a letter to the S.Tel, probably not published, the full text being:

"Unfortunately, Christopher Booker’s advice to the Conservatives (Notebook 8th and 15th June) of adopting his policy of free trade in a “true Europe of the nations” but not accepting “political integration” is itself as easily outflanked as the Tories’ policy.

All Brussels has to do is imply or even state that it will agree to no such thing and Mr. Booker’s policy is in tatters. It is a fundamental of negotiation that if, say, Tony Blair wants something from the other party (Brussels) then he will have to compromise. The only way out is to want nothing - that is to walk away from the EU by unilaterally annulling the treaties. Mr. Booker is wrong: the only options, as always, are to accept a federal EU superstate or get out of the EU into the world. There is no third way.
"

I see no evidence that the civil service, or Mrs May, or most MPs understand that we must want nothing from the EU, otherwise we will end up compromising our independence. And, yes, I have been fighting the North/Booker axis that long.

Budgie said...

Cuffleyburgers, I am grateful for your support, really I am, so it pains me to disagree with you. Well, Mrs Budgie says I'm a disagreeable fellow, so who am I to argue?

You are right, "an EEA Brexit is better than staying in" as we are in at this moment. But it has at least two main problems: The EEA agreement is not on offer to the UK at the moment (even if the EFTA accepted the UK back in - another assumption); and the EEA is under the control of the EU (their EEA, their rules).

What price will the EU exact from us for the EEA agreement? Because they surely will.

But there is another point we're missing. The very fact that we are all engrossed by what sort of Brexit will or won't happen means we are back, in practice, to Cameron-negotiation-land. It is as though the Referendum, with its binary question of Remain or Leave, never happened. That seems rather a fundamental point to give away for nothing.

Cuffleyburgers said...

Budgie - I don't mind you disagreeing as you express yourself with clarity and tact!

From my point of view an EEA option is still possible and is kind of emerging from the fog of total chaos and deliberate obfuscation.

Unfortunately it won't be such a good EEA deal as could have been secured but that's maybe not wholly a bad thing as it will make it easier politically to move on from there.

rapscallion said...

jack ketch @08:51

Not so. Barnier et al simply do not understand why anyone would want to leave their beloved EUSSR

Besides - watch this and Farage's point becomes clear https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XeIOdkST4k

jack ketch said...


Not so. Barnier et al simply do not understand why anyone would want to leave their beloved EUSSR


We still seem to be talking at cross purposes. It was always clear that Farage meant 'that Barnier & co don't understand etc'? What is unclear?

Bill Quango MP said...

Poor May. Branded an establishment Remoaner who is a placewoman of the EU.

The reality is, she isn’t. Or rather she is, but unwillingly. It all goes back to the election.
She was supposed to get a 50 plus majority. Then Remoaner Phil would be gone. And she could implement her own Brexit vision

Instead, she messed it up. And made a bad situation far, far worse.
That election was why we aren’t leaving very far.

So we shouldn’t feel sorry too sorry for her.
The daft old boot.

Budgie said...

BQ, You'd be right if it wasn't for the fact she was just the same before the 2017 election.

Bill Quango MP said...

Budged. Perhaps. But check any newspaper from the month before the terrible election. And all are pointing to a clear out of remosning ministers. And a threat to the lords.

Afterwards, she needs every single mp of whatever stripe to continue limping on. And is totally beholden to the civil service to come up with ways to do so.

It would have been dar better if she had been to,d to get lost in 2017.

Cascadian said...

A stupid woman gets the opportunity to discuss issues with the "leaders" of what was the seven, self-described largest economies in the world (is that even true any more?) her priorities you might mistakenly think to be free-trade.

https://twitter.com/theresa_may/status/1005046878705242113

"I've arrived in Quebec for the #G7Summit, which brings together leaders from the world’s biggest economies. I will call on world leaders to protect the world's oceans and ask them to prevent the vile abuse of women online."

Do you begin to understand the problem?

Raedwalds example falls flat because he makes the assumption that both parties are serious. Maybe and yUK are demonstrably unserious.

Cuffleyburgers said...

it's ard to avoid the conclusion thatthe whole socalled Brexit negotiation is just an elaborate political theatre.

Trouble is we've seen through it and if May's Brexit is not up to snuff there'll be trouble.

This applies to the whole continent.

I won't be surpised if in 10 years time we'll be referring to the EU in the past tense.

And the Tory party.

Cull The Badgers said...

I favour the pitchforks, we've been tricked, there is no democratic solution.