As we move toward Autumn, Brexit and its implications are becoming a reality, at least in terms of the ’pre-fight build-up’. Our Prime Minister, Theresa May, has insisted "Brexit means Brexit" and "the decision of the British public will be respected".
It is only over the short time since the June referendum result became clear, that the enormity of the task facing our government, businesses and society is starting to become apparent. Negotiating with our European neighbours for a satisfactory outcome somewhere along the spectrum of a Norwegian type arrangement where monies are still paid to the EU in return for market access without a say in policy, while still accepting free movement of people at one end to a Free Trade Agreement-only relationship (hard Brexit) at the other, will be fraught to say the least.
In tandem with this massive undertaking, government is in the process of major reorganisation, with departments being disbanded and created and scores of civil servants deployed into new groups to oversee Brexit and the UK’s new stand-alone international trade relationships.
Forecourt retailers reading this article will be well versed with the art of negotiation it’s something you do regularly in the course of your businesses. Fuel supply contracts, the myriad shop goods, maintenance and employee contracts etc require you to be on your game on the negotiating front.
In this area, the one thing we all learn very early on is that you don’t go in with your best offer first, and you don’t let the other side know your tactics.
Yet, here is the government’s dilemma. The calls are mounting from parliamentarians, businesses and NGOs for it to disclose its Brexit negotiating plans so that all can scrutinise and comment. That goes against prudent negotiation tactics and puts the government in a difficult position between keeping its cards close to its chest and practising open government.
UKPIA, along with many business trade associations, has been engaged with the government, putting its high-level views on what a successful Brexit might look like, together with what we would like to see from the very welcome introduction of an industrial strategy.
We hope for the best!