Has Brexit broken Britain irreparably?

Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Theresa May will be back. With her withdrawal agreement. Again. Her “back me and sack me” pledge was widely described as falling on her sword – and missing.

But the Terminator-style determination to return to parliament next week with Meaningful Vote 4 (or Meaningful Vote 3 depending on how you look at it) is just the latest in a long line of cynical manoeuvres that are widely described – and admired – as stubbornness, but are, in reality, simply nuts.

The resemblance of May’s withdrawal agreement to Monty Python’s dead parrot is too obvious to resist. For anyone who thinks it has already been voted on three times already, last Friday’s vote was on the zombie version – it didn’t really count as it had been separated from its twin, the political declaration. Such is the arcane nature of British parliamentary procedure.

Brexit is a study that should be taught in every school. The skills that young people need to succeed are less the academic qualifications that everyone focuses on but more the ones so evident by their absence on the British side of the negotiating table.

The chances of a cliff-edge departure next week are high. It looks like a 50-50 call to me

The ability to negotiate is a pre-requisite for career progression: whether it’s with customers, the boss or your fellow workers, the skills to handle tricky negotiations are the ones that will help determine how well we do.

And we rarely teach how to do this. Attention to detail is another: it might seem obvious, but familiarity with your brief is not just a prerequisite for legal types. British MPs who claim they used to be lawyers revealed why they may have decided to change careers.

Dominic Raab, for instance, was head of the negotiations for a short while and repeatedly revealed ignorance about the detail. Things like Dover being an important trading port.

Just look at what happened. One side turned up, on time, well prepared, well read, with a fully-articulated negotiating position that, with some flexibility, was broadly adhered to. The other side didn’t. The only surprise is that anyone is surprised by the outcome.


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