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Joint solutions work best

Readers' letters | Published:

Our attempt at Brexit negotiations have gotten us nowhere. They are far too confrontational and one dimensional.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin

By this I mean May and Johnson have simply demanded concessions with no real context or apparent benefit to the EU.

It is far better to talk around a joint solution with joint benefits. To do this you need to discuss all aspects of a relationship and how they could be tailored to EU needs.

An example of this was the German air force’s top interrogator during the First World War. He could have adopted the physical violence route and maybe got a few answers on specific points from the captured allied airman in his charge. Instead he took them swimming, took them out for meals and won their confidence. As they relaxed they provided valuable information on a number of topics with some prompting, but no pressure.

However the crucial point is that they provided answers to questions not yet asked or even thought of without thinking that they may be of value.

One RAF pilot asked to fly the German Me109 and was given this opportunity with an aircraft with limited fuel and no ammunition. On landing I guess he was asked what he thought of the aircraft. Did it turn better than a Spitfire? What about rate of climb? Performance at altitude? And so on. Of course this provided information on how best to combat the Spitfire but in an indirect way and even better probably added his own unprompted observations, not thought of by his new friends on the combat capability of the Spitfire.

I used to buy TV airtime for Saatchi clients. The room was full of cigarette smoke, ringing telephones, old typewriters and swearing boozing barrow boys. To cut out the technical stuff this was not for me. Mainly because I would have been rubbish at it.

Instead I would invite a TV contractor in, get a quiet empty room and give the guy a coffee. We could then talk around the constraints I was working under and basically how flexible he could be at meeting them but the real progress was made when I said “OK can we forget all that and you give me what suits you best”.

What I got was always pure gold. They like money upfront. This gives them a foundation for the higher priced airtime that would later be sold to my beer swilling, smoking East End barrow boy mates. So before the meeting I would get approval to offer that and also flexibility on campaign timing and airtime quality. He would leave happy and I would then be able to put my feet up because he would run the campaign from his end.

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The key point is he had shared equity in the outcome because he could rationalise things to his bosses as something that he had negotiated and it better suited their own internal structures.

Now Boris do you get the point? Make the outcome of your meetings one which suits the internal objectives of the EU without massive damage to the UK. The theme being “How can we help the French, the Germans and the rest of you EU types? We will do our best for you in the circumstances”.

I guarantee a lot of stuff round the edge you never thought of. Just forget the blustering, demanding threats.

Robin Lloyd, Ellesmere

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