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Who’d be Theresa May?

Robin Copland
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Honestly.  She is on a hiding to nothing. 

It is terribly easy to carp and criticise from the sidelines; especially when you don’t have to get out of bed and go to negotiate.  As someone put it on the radio earlier in the week, she has the European Research Group (ERG) buzzing around her head filling it full of their, frankly unattainable red lines and constantly advising her to “toughen up”.  Easier in the saying than in the doing and there was a certain irony, looking in from the outside, when those who have made the Prime Minister’s job almost impossible in her negotiations with the EU with their demands for “the perfect deal” then called for a vote of “no confidence” when she failed to bring back said deal.

She has Jeremy Corbyn talking about a shambles and “broken government”, but refusing steadfastly to admit where the Labour Party is on Europe – why?  Because, if it is possible, the Labour Party is even more divided than the Tories. 

You have the Scottish Nationalist Party, along with the Liberal Democrats braying from the sidelines demanding another referendum and, in the middle of it all, you have a beleaguered Prime Minister winning the vote of no confidence but with 117 of her colleagues voting against her.

And then you’ve got the Democratic Unionist Party, a small party of MPs with strange views on all kinds of issues, who, because of an ill-judged and ill-timed disaster of a general election called by Mrs May before she needed to, find themselves in a position of power far in excess of what they could have ever dreamed.

Lessons to be learned for negotiators!

  • Before you go into a negotiation, get agreement from your side on the issues and your objectives. That way, you stand a fighting chance of getting the deal through your own side when you bring it back for approval.
  • Recognise the difference between negotiation strategy (this is the only way to avoid a hard Brexit) and objectives (what am I trying to achieve from this negotiation).
  • Avoid phrases like, “this the only deal/ final offer on the table”. Anything that boxes a negotiator in, that creates inflexibility makes their life more difficult – not less.
  • Avoid being the Prime Minister of the UK in late 2018!

Where will we in the UK be in March 2019?  Sad to say that, for the first time in my 65 years living here, I have no idea.

A Merry Christmas and a “Guid New Year” to all of our readers.

Robin Copland
More by Robin Copland:
The Precedent
Going off the Rails
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