Welcome

BEERG on BrexitI am Tom Hayes, welcome to the BEERG Brexit Blog. Here you will find my personal thoughts and observations not just on how Brexit will negatively impact the business sector in the UK, Ireland and across Europe, but how it will change the business, political and economic landscape for decades to come.

I am the founder Executive Director of BEERG a network of HR professionals working across Europe. All blogposts here are written by me, Tom Hayes, unless stated otherwise. Feel free to read, share and comment… unnamed

Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Negotiating, Theresa May

4 Ts are needed in #Brexit Talks: Timescale; Table; Team & Truth

This blog was written and posted on Feb 18th, 2018:

BELGIUM-BRITAIN-EU-BREXITLast Monday I came across a Twitter exchange between two prominent Brexit supporters. Not politicians, but well-known members of the commentariat.

One of them accepted what the UK government had signed up to as regards the avoidance of a border in Ireland in Article 59 of last December’s “Article 50, Phase 1” agreement. However, she believed that the UK government had been trapped into doing so and should now actively be looking for a way out. Welch on the deal, in deed if not in word.

The second one denied that what had been agreed had been agreed. The interpretation of Article 49 by Brussels (AKA EU27) and Dublin was simply wrong. London could never have agreed such terms.

Both, in their own way, were saying that Article 49 put the UK government in an impossible position of promising mutually incompatible things to the EU27 (and Dublin), the DUP and the hardline Brexiters in the UK.

Truth may be the first casualty of war, but it can never be a casualty of negotiations, and denying or reneging on the truth was what the two Brexiters were about.

While, as we discussed last week in this BEERG Briefing, a large part of your leverage in negotiations derives from clearly knowing your BATNA, your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, the actuality of negotiations is conducted by real, living, breathing people and they only have one card to play in discussions. Their reputation for trustworthiness and honesty. The other party must be able to believe that you mean what you say and when you say you can deliver, you can deliver.

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Brexit, Irish border, Michel Barnier, Negotiating, Theresa May

#Brexit: The UK Government’s BATNA Dilemma

Koji Tsuruoaka, Japan's ambassador to Britain, speaks outside 10 Downing Street after a meeting between Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and senior members of Japanese companies, in LondonIt seems to us that a great deal of press and other comments about the supposed disunity within the UK cabinet about Brexit frames it slightly wrong. The cabinet is not split over what it wants from the Brexit discussions. It knows exactly what it wants.

The problem arises over what to do when it doesn’t get what it wants. and it already knows that you can’t always get what you want. The real problem is that the cabinet, in the language of professional negotiators, cannot agree on its BATNA, its Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.

The acronym BATNA was coined by the US academics, Fisher and Ury, and became common currency among negotiators after they published their classic on negotiations, Getting to Yes, in 1981. The concept is simple. Before you meet the other party in a negotiation you need to work out in detail what your objectives are and, as important if not more so, what are you options if the deal you want is not available. In a word, what are your alternatives?

Knowing your BATNA is critical to a successful negotiation. It means that you can begin discussions safe in the knowledge that the discussions may not be the only game in town. If the terms on offer are not acceptable, you know beforehand what you can do. You are not locked in. Not only does having alternatives increase you leverage, it is also psychologically important. It allows you to make it clear to the other party that your are not a prisoner of the talks, you are not in a corner, you have choices.

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Brexit, Data Protection, Data transfers, GDPR, Macron, Parody

“Talking to the Board”: A #Brexit Fable

This blog was written on February 3rd 2018.

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From the hotel window he could see across the roofs of Fisherman’s Wharf to Alcatraz, with the Golden Gate Bridge off in the background. Images that evoked The Rock and Bullitt or, for those with longer memories, the TV series The Streets of San Francisco, with Karl Malden and a very young Michael Douglas.

But James “Jim” Johnson wasn’t there to engage in remembrances of movies past or to admire the view. As the UK Executive Director of 4Zero, one of the US’s leading transnationals in the IT space, he was there to pitch to a board committee on a new $500m+ project, with around 1,200 jobs, to be located in Europe, developing state of the art computer security systems, vital for governments and businesses at a time when terrorist and state-backed cyber guerrilla war campaigns were the stuff of daily life.

Normally, pitching for a project wouldn’t knock Jim. After all, he had helped catapult 4Zero in the UK from a small 18 people operation to the multi-billion pound, 3,000 people operation it was today. He had pulled off many internal company coups to grow the business, seeing off competition from the French, Germans, Spanish and Irish in many a memorable battle.

But today he was apprehensive.

Brexit. How he had come to hate that word. Brexit, bloody Brexit.

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Brexit, British Government, Conservative Party, UK Labour Party

#Brexit: It’s not the Economy, Stupid, It’s Politics

This blogpost was written on January 27:

3140It has been one of those weeks when you have to stop and ask yourself just exactly what is Brexit, given that the UK government and the wider political community seem incapable of agreeing on an answer.

Certainly, Brexit means the UK wants to leave the EU, but on what terms? When does it really want to leave, and what happens afterwards? Reading about the way UK politicians are approaching Brexit I am often reminded of the hassled parents who, patience worn thin, tells the kids to “get in the car, we are going for a drive”. When the kids demand to know “where are we going” they are told to “just get in the car, we’ll decide on the way”. As soon as they are in the car the parents start arguing as to where to go, all the while the kids creating a noisy racket in the back.

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Brexit, British Government, Macron, Negotiating, Theresa May, UK Labour Party

#Macron says: “Be My Guest” while UK’s two main parties are gripped by #Brexit cakism

This piece was written on January 19th 2018.

_99662678_selfieWith just three words, “Be my Guest”, French President, Emmanuel Macron, on a visit to the UK this week, made it clear that the EU would not bend or break its rules to accommodate the UK in any post-Brexit deal.

“In” means in, and that means abiding by the EU’s rules. “Out” means out. And the choice was the UK’s to make. No doubt, a wry smile crossed the face of the spirit of General De Gaulle, wherever he may be.

As the Europeans see it, Brexit isn’t difficult or complicated. In fact, it is fairly straightforward. It is UK politics that are difficult and that are making Brexit hard for the UK.

We believe that the EU see Brexit as follows:

1.       Following a vote on June 23, 2016, some nine months later, in March 2017, the UK wrote to the European Union saying that it would be leaving the EU at midnight on March 29th, 2019. Continue reading

Brexit, Parody

A Parody: The #Brexit Tapes… inside a fictional Cabinet Brexit Committee…

Following our in-depth analysis of the negotiations: Brexit: Taking Stock, in last week’s blog: we thought we might offer a humorous take on the what many see as the at times almost farcical nature of much of the UK government’s approach to Brexit.

This post is written in that light-hearted spirit.

We will return to our more usual considered critical analysis of the process and the negotiations from next week. Enjoy and feel free to share

 

Cabinet roomTHE BREXIT TAPES (?)

The scene: A British Brexit cabinet subcommittee

The cast of characters:

  • Davis: Davis (David “Danger” Davis, head of the Brexit Expeditionary Force, tasked with extracting the UK from the EU)
  • BoJo: Boris “BoJo” Johnson, Secretary of State for upsetting foreigners
  • The Govey: The Environment Secretary and one time “man who would be king” and then the man would be a political assassin.
  • Fox: Dr Liam Fox, Minister responsible for trying to make trade deals with former colonies and places as far away as possible. The fourth member of a gang of three.
  • Hammond: “Big Phil” Hammond, the moneyman and middle man. Sits on the fence with both ears to the ground.
  • The Maybot: The hapless Prime Minister. Is in the chair for the meeting, but not in control. This is effectively a non-speaking role. The others only let stay in place because they cannot agree among themselves who should replace her. She can ask questions. Just about.

[We enter the meeting as Danger Davis, the Brexit Secretary, is about to speak…]

Davis:
This week we flushed out a series of memos from Brussels High Command (BHC) to businesses here in the UK.

BoJo:
Ah, bravo old chap… a daring “Mission Impossible” raid on Barnier’s office in the Berlaymont?

Davis:
No, it was even more daring… we read them on the Internet. We’ve cracked the code and now know how to get the computers to work and google the internet.

You wouldn’t believe what you can find… but I didn’t download any of “that” stuff.

BHC is telling UK businesses to get ready for a “No Deal” Brexit in March 2019. After that date their licences to operate in the EU will no longer be valid, personal data cannot be transferred from the EU to the UK, as we will be a “third country”.

Truck drivers won’t be able to cross the Channel. Not sure if 007 would still have a licence to kill, they didn’t mention that.

The Govey:               [Pauses his game of Assassins Creed on the iPad]

A good thing surely. A clean break from the evil empire.

Nice to know that they are getting our “No Deal is Better than a Bad Deal” position.

Davis:
No, no, no. We are the ones who have to threaten “no deal”. Continue reading