The European Union yesterday met up to issue its demands about how the Brexit negotiations are going to go. This is really rather toddler stuff, this isn’t adults interacting with the real world outside the windows. Essentially they all met up, declared loudly that they will have every thing they want, patted themselves on the back and went off for a celebration. This has all the seriousness of the toddler proudly showing Mummy how the toilet training is going by waving the filled potty around.

Negotiations have two sides to them and it’s all very well laying out what you aim to get from them but an insistence that it will be my way or the highway does rather leave open the possibility that the answer will be, very well then, the road alone. Which is actually what the British stance is at present. Theresa May has pointed out that no deal is better than a bad deal and that reversion to WTO terms holds no terrors for the UK. Thus this doesn’t particularly work:

European leaders gathered in Brussels to agree the negotiating principles for the European Commission team that will shortly begin discussions with the British Government representatives to agree the terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

The meeting was brief and entirely unanimous. Within the first minute they agreed to adopt the final draft of the guidelines that had been circulated during the week. Then they gave themselves a round of applause.

As I say, declaration then auto-pat on the back. As has been pointed out, no military plan survives first contact with the enemy, no business plan first contact with the market. No negotiation stance survives that first meeting with the people you’re negotiating with:


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