By failing to think through the consequences of the Article 50 timetable, the UK seriously weakened its bargaining position. In so doing the British have again been guilty of overlooking two further realities about the EU that as insiders they should have been recognised. Finally, and perhaps most fundamentally, the British debate about what was likely to prove negotiable has failed repeatedly to take into account the political nature of the entity with which it is dealing, and the fact that it is the UK and not the EU that is asking for change.
10 Common Communication Mistakes
This overlooks the extent to which all of the EU27 regard a flourishing EU as even more valuable than the British market, whether economically or politically. The potential negative consequences would far outweigh the loss of the British market, however prized. This helps explain why the EU27 opted immediately after the referendum for a negotiating procedure which maximised the likelihood of their staying united and minimised the scope for the British to divide and rule. Furthermore, the underlying dynamics of the negotiation were always going to be profoundly asymmetrical, not just because it pitted 27 against one, but more importantly because the EU could unite in the defence of a pre-agreed system whereas the British had to devise its desiderata from scratch.
Mapping out what Britain desired would always have been a challenging task, not least because Leave voters hold markedly divergent views on the question; it has been even more so in a deeply polarised country, led since by a minority and profoundly split government. Here too, though, an extraordinary number of those commenting on the negotiations totally failed to anticipate this reality.
Instead there was a widespread expectation that it would be the EU27 and not the British who would be divided and weak in the negotiations.
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And yet once outside or at least on their way out and treated as already having left in terms of how the Brexit talks have been organised the British have reacted in horror at this deep-rooted — and hence entirely predictable — characteristic. All told, therefore, the manner in which the British have allowed themselves to be taken aback by the realities of negotiating with the EU says much more about our own shallow understanding of the system than it does about European vindictiveness. A tiny minority of UK officials and politicians did correctly predict the likely course of negotiations from the outset — most famously Ivan Rogers.
But the vast majority of the British political elite have gone on being ill-informed, not to say deluded, about the nature of the EU. What this means for the eventual outcome of the Brexit process remains unclear. This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor LSE.
The difference is that you can make an economic case for benefits of zero tariffs. There is no such economic case for regulatory alignment because it is indeterminable whether in many a given case economies of scale is a better approach than tailoring to the specific needs of multiple particular markets. Indeed, the key misunderstanding the British Establishment made is that — in the face of evidence to the contrary — EU membership has significant economic advantages. In Brussels, meanwhile, they know that EU membership has very little economic advantages and that a country like Britain would probably do well outside it.
Since EU integration has always been a political project justified by economic advantages that do not exist, for Britain to do well outside the EU would jeopardise the legitimacy of the EU itself. The chief problem, then, is that the British side were full of people sunnily convinced that EU membership had economic benefits, and the EU side were full of people darkly convinced that it had perilously few. Thatcher would have disagreed with you. A customs union but with different regulations in each of the member states. And therefore border controls.
And the rest?
Avoiding Communication Blunders and Misunderstandings
Of course it is easier and cheaper for any business if it needs just one certificate to confirm regulatory compliance for the whole EU than one for each member state. That should be obvious. And true for large companies like car producers as well as small and mid-size companies. And even incomplete the single market gives much better market access for services than any FTA.
I am saying that the Single Market was a mistake. The EU is not comparable to the US and China, because the latter are far more homogenous in tastes and standards then the dozens of EU nations. The more diverse tastes and standards are, the poorer fit any one-size-fits all must be.
Urban Dictionary: Misunderstood
Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street. This necessarily creates vast spatial inequities which the US and China can counter to some extent through massive transfers of wealth from richer areas to poorer, in perpetuity. But just you try persuading the Netherlands to do that for Greece. I think the article makes a lot of good points, but I think there was miscalculation on the EU side as well. I assume that when the withdrawal agreement was signed off, the EU negotiators thought it fairly likely that Theresa May would get it through the Commons.
In this they miscalculated. I suspect that if the EU27 had offered the UK a sunset clause of, say, on the backstop in March, the DUP and the ERG would have grabbed it with both hands, after all everyone wants to get this wretched thing over the line. And would such a sunset clause been so bad? Why did the EU27 miscalculate?
I think it is because the amount of rebellion in the House of Commons is something very very unexpected to European eyes used to coalition government and proportional representation. In Germany the need to hold coalitions together with tiny majorities and the proportional representation system makes party discipline very strong; a member of the Bundestag who rebels can be put on a much worse list place in the next elections. In the UK, an MP who is popular locally is almost impregnable, because if the party deselects them and puts another candidate in, they lose the incumbent bonus and risk letting a rival party in.
I think Alias is right on the money there: indeed, even now I get the impression some on the EU27 side believe the proposed WA will somehow be agreed as-is eventually, despite overwhelming and repeated rejection.
The primary strategic error made by the English Establishment was, apart from the other errors already mentioned, that no unified position on the outcome of brexit was reached before the referendum would have been nigh impossible anyway. Furthermore a gross miscalculation by the UK of the positions of the other parties involved in brexit is also unforgivable from a governance point of view. So now brexit is being seen from the continental pov as just a sad English protest against the political realities of the 21st century.
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The Tory strategy to defeat the Blair-Brown Labour party was to paint them as un-British cosmopolitans. Ever since then it has been impossible for the Tory leadership to understand the EU, since their jobs depend on them not understanding it. A tragedy worthy of an opera. In due course, more will be known about the intentions of the UK political establishment in this matter and the degree to which the EU leadership and the UK establishment connived to pull the wool over the eyes of the UK electorate. The author here, like so many commentators, maintains the fiction that the UK political establishment acted in good faith towards the British people following the Brexit referendum result.
Although there are diverse opinions about the strange performance of May and the subsequent difficulties of getting her WA accepted by the HoC, the entire saga cannot with any credibility be interpreted as a genuine attempt by May and her small coterie of advisers to unreservedly put into effect the referendum result.
It beggars belief that, as suggested, the UK political establishment did not and does not understand how the EU works. That, however, is beside the point anyway. In the lead-up to the point where Cameron called the referendum, the EU leadership had already made it clear they were not going to be acting in good faith in the event that the British people were to vote Leave.
I believe every woman's body is beautiful in its own way. I have never understood that just because a woman has thick thighs, she is considered fat. For so long, I've been around in the modeling world and have tried to break that barrier. But I think now it's turning around. Coco Austin. Beautiful Woman World Believe. Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood. Lionel Trilling.
Misunderstanding Others Helpless Make. Mother Nature is always speaking. She speaks in a language understood within the peaceful mind of the sincere observer. Leopards, cobras, monkeys, rivers and trees; they all served as my teachers when I lived as a wanderer in the Himalayan foothills. Radhanath Swami.