The Art of a deal

Theresa May has finally backed down to allow the extension of Brexit leaving date if her deal is, again, rejected by the Commons. This is against the backdrop of MPs leaving the Tory party and some ministers threatening to resign to ensure there isn’t an exit with no deal.

May has never read the Art of the deal (co-written by Trump but confirmed by his co-author and the publisher he had no real input in writing the book). Over the last few months, she has cut a forlorn figure traipsing back and forth from Brussels with no new proposals other than trying to persuade the EU to change their minds on the backstop to appease her party and the DUP. Let’s have a whimsical look at the 11 steps in the Art of the deal against what is perceived how these negotiations have gone with the EU.

1. Think Big
Well, the Tories certainly did. One thing you can rely on the Tories is their belief in their self-importance. Taking that to a group who are also aware of their self-worth makes compromise difficult, especially, when the other party is in a much stronger position.

2. Protect the downside, and the upside will take care of itself
Planning for the worst was walking away from the EU without a deal or believing that at 11:55 pm on 29th March 2019 somehow the EU will cave into our demands. They didn’t flinch, and their resolve is clear they will, unwillingly, allow us to walk away without a deal. This is a downsize we as a country can’t afford or want.

3. Maximise the options
Contrary to government propaganda that the EU have held us to ransom and push their agenda all along – when considering their comments the EU has considered, moved and accepted many points that they didn’t want from us. I don’t think we can complain about this – although the EU is holding fast on the backstop. This is likely mainly due to the influence of Ireland. If we want to leave the EU that is up to us; but why should Ireland face the likelihood of violence restarting again.

4. Know your market
I think the Civil Service more than likely knew what they were doing. However, it’s the political restriction from elements within the UK that have hampered a smooth mediation

5. Use your leverage
The book says “The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.” Need I say more!

6. Enhance your location
Not really relevant here.

7. Get the word out
The press has been irresponsible during the Brexit negotiations. The right-wing media have pushed an anti-EU narrative never recognising that over 16 million people voted to stay in the EU and not considering their views at all. Ignoring such a large number has eventually lead to friction. The left-wing press has let Corbyn vacillate on the people Vote and the EU. The Brexit arguments, on the whole, have not been presented objectively by the media.

8. Fight back
With Farage, our right-wing press and some of the Tory MPs we have not been measured or constructive in our comments. We have been abusive at worst and grudgingly accepting of issues at best. Over time the EU has become more and more intransigent in their dealings with us.

9. Deliver the goods
Trump says – “You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. However, if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.” Theresa May hasn’t delivered.

10. Contain the costs
Agreeing to pay the £39 billion and possibly coming out on a no deal that will be very detrimental to our economy again fails to do this. Not to mention the, now accepted, a significant downturn to our economy for many years to come from leaving the EU.

11. Have fun
I am sure the world is at our expense not to mention they will take advantage of the markets we leave behind.


* Cllr. Tahir Maher is a member of the LDV editorial team

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This entry was posted in News and Op-eds.


  • The Prime Minister appears to have got all she wanted. She wanted to drag things out and she has succeeded. She wanted to give a choice of her deal or chaos. Yes, she has done that. She really wants to be in the common market and customs union but not admit it. We do not know about that yet.
    She has convinced many people about her sincerity.
    Finally after the disastrous election normally she would be forced to resign. Still hanging on.
    I do not know if she aimed to make the government and the House of Commons look like idiots. Whether or not she has certainly done that.

  • She will get her deal with labour rebel help

  • As someone who teaches negotiation for a living I despair of people like Dominic Raab. Taking ‘no deal’ off the table doesn’t weaken your negotiating position. Anyone can walk away from a negotiation but in most negotiations no one is desperate for a deal and they can walk away with no lasting damage.
    Sometimes acknowledging the damage that could happen (to both sides) encourages the opposite side to be more pragmatic and helpful.
    Most negotiations fail when one side asks too much of the other. On this occasion one side has asked too much of itself. Theresa May set mutually exclusive red lines – a free trade agreement, no border in Northern Ireland but not being in the single market or the customs union. You can’t get someone to agree with you if you can’t agree with yourself.

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