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The art of negotiation
May 28, 2017, 15:59
Sanctuary wrote:
We have now reached the stage, like it or not, where we all have to decide who is the best leader to see us through this historic moment in our history. As far as I can tell there are only two options - Corbyn or May.
In my world Corbyn has absolutely no chance of succeeding. A very nice guy by all accounts but not the person to be trusted to get the best deal for us. Half his own party want him out so that says it all surely.

The Brexiteers will flood to vote for Mrs May, not all because they are conservatives, but because they know she has her hand on the trigger. I will, for the first time in my 70 years, vote for the conservatives on this issue ALONE to see my wishes come true. For you it will be seen as a nightmare and I understand that, but on this one occasion, Brexit has to come first.

I've said this before but you don't listen - the Brexit negotiations are 100% top of the list at this very moment in time, the rest on hold. I'm sure that once this vote is over other vitally important issues will begin to be dealt with. Patience is a virtue.

Naturally I will expect you and others to disagree on every count, but I'm afraid that is what is going to happen unless something extraordinary happens in the meantime!

From a former British ambassador:

"May has continually tried to pitch this as a question of who you would wish to act as the negotiator of Brexit, either her or Jeremy Corbyn. But why would anybody believe that a woman who is not even capable to debate with her opponents would be a good negotiator?

In fact she would be an appalling negotiator. She becomes completely closed off when contradicted. She is incapable of thinking on her feet. She is undoubtedly the worst performer at Prime Minister’s Questions, either for government or opposition, since they were first broadcast. Why on earth would anybody think she would be a good negotiator? As soon as Michel Barnier made a point she was not expecting across the table, she would switch off and revert to cliché, and probably give off a great deal of hostility too.

The delusion she would negotiate well has been fed by the media employing all kinds of completely inappropriate metaphors for the Brexit negotiations. From metaphors of waging war to metaphors of playing poker, they all characterise the process as binary and aggressive.

In fact – and I speak as somebody who has undertaken very serious international negotiations, including of the UK maritime boundaries and as the Head of UK Delegation to the Sierra Leone Peace Talks – intenational negotiation is the opposite. It is a cooperative process and not a confrontational process. Almost all negotiations cover a range of points, and they work on the basis of you give a bit there, and I give a bit here. Each side has its bottom lines, subjects on which it cannot move at all or move but to a limited degree. Sometimes on a single subject two “bottom lines” can be in direct conflict. Across the whole range of thousands of subjects, you are trying to find a solution all can live with.

So empathy with your opposite number is a key requirement in a skilled negotiator, and everything I have ever seen about Theresa May marks her out as perhaps having less emotional intelligence than anybody I have ever observed. Bonhommie is also important. Genuine friendship can be a vital factor in reaching agreement, and it can happen in unexpected ways. But May has never been able to strike up friendships outside of a social circle limited to a very particular segment of English society, excluding the vast majority of the English, let alone Scots and heaven forfend continentals. The best negotiators have affability, or at least the ability to switch it on. It is a vital tool.

That is not to say occasionally you do not have to speak and stare hard to make plain that one of your bottom lines is real. But that is by no means the norm. And you need the intelligence and sharpness to carry it off, which May does not. That is one of the many differences between May and Thatcher.

Frankly, if I had the choice between sending in Jeremy Corbyn, with his politeness and reasonableness, or Theresa May, into a negotiation I would not hesitate for a second in choosing Corbyn. I am quite sure there is not another diplomat in the World who would make a different choice. May’s flakiness and intolerance of disagreement represent a disaster waiting to happen."

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