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Letter: Why Are Lib Dems Helping the EU Negotiators?

Published on: 22 Mar, 2017
Updated on: 22 Mar, 2017

From John Armstrong

Interesting figures the Liberal Democrats give us regarding EU nationals residing in Guildford [See: Lib Dem Candidate Criticises Guildford MP’s Vote on Article 50].

I believe that nationally around 20% of our university staff are also EU nationals. I wonder if there is a similar percentage of Brits staffing EU universities or indeed a similar number of British health workers in Stuttgart’s equivalent of the Royal Surrey.

I am puzzled by the Lib Dem’s attitude to Brexit and their attempts to slow things down, thus fighting the EU’s corner instead of ours. Let us not forget that the Lib Dems promised an In/ Out referendum, even before David Cameron was frightened into it by UKIP. One presumes that had they kept that promise, when they had the chance, that they would have abided by the result.

Why now then, with every word that they utter, do they strengthen the hand of the EU’s negotiators, encouraging them to take it to the wire? They are constantly, along with most of the broadcast media seeking to undermine the confidence of the British people in the decision we have taken and our ability to come out of this on top. I just wonder what it is that they have against us.

When it comes to EU residents, living and working in Britain, no-one is suggesting that they go home. One can understand a little disquiet, but remember that we asked the EU to settle this question of secure residency before negotiations began and they refused even to discuss it.

The argument of unilateral declarations over residency is somewhat academic now that Article 50 is about to be triggered. The subject is reported to be high on the agenda when talks begin. Let us wait and see which side of the debate plays Mr Awkward.

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Responses to Letter: Why Are Lib Dems Helping the EU Negotiators?

  1. Stuart Barnes Reply

    March 22, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    I think Mr Armstrong is being too kind to the Liberals. They are not trying just to slow down our escape from the hated and failed EU – they are trying to reverse the clearly expressed instruction of the people to get us out.

    • John Armstrong Reply

      March 22, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      Thank you Mr Barnes. I grant you my piece was a little understated.

  2. Tom Hunt Reply

    March 22, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    As ever with UKIP, Mr. Armstrong is distorting reality because the facts just don’t support his case.

    Various commentators, including Mr. Armstrong, have suggested that conceding the right of EU nationals currently living in the UK to remain here post-Brexit would weaken our negotiation position with the EU. This is simply untrue.

    Professional negotiators (I count myself as being one) will tell you that positional bargaining is inefficient and leads to sub-optimal outcomes. The book, “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton proposes an approach to negotiations that considers the merits of each problem, not just each party’s positions.

    Negotiations should not be a zero-sum game, in which one party winning a point means that the other party must lose it. It would be perfectly possible for the UK to confirm EU nationals currently living here to remain here without reducing our leverage. Doing so would actually strengthen the UK negotiation’s legitimacy, quite apart from being the ethical thing to do.

    Mr. Armstrong’s comment “One can understand a little disquiet” is frankly a disgracefully unprincipled approach to people’s lives. He would do well to remember that these EU nationals are still members of the human race.

    I have met Bruce Patton, who I am sure would be aghast at the weakness of the positional bargaining approach that the British Government is adopting. As am I.

    The constant mantra from Brexiters that “if you are not with us you are against us” is unhelpful, divisive and exposes the inherent weakness in the premise of Brexit. It is doing more to fracture Britain than any pro-EU argument possibly could.

    The EU is not the enemy here; the UK will need to maintain a relationship with the EU post-Brexit. We should not, therefore, burn our bridges during the exit negotiations. The Lib Dems are the only party currently advocating a sensible approach to negotiation.

    • John Perkins Reply

      March 23, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Even if John Armstrong is inaccurate in saying: “No-one is suggesting they go home”. Mr. Hunt’s claim that understanding there is disquiet about the issue somehow dehumanises EU nationals is extraordinary. I sincerely hope that no-one involved in the negotiations is so intemperate.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      March 23, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      Getting to Yes is a rather old book – somewhat superseded by more recent works. Try ‘Start with No’.

  3. Tom Hunt Reply

    March 24, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Mr. Paton’s suggested text, “Start with No”, has some valid points, but is most relevant if you are faced with a single, transactional negotiation, perhaps a hostage negotiation.

    It’s much less useful when you are negotiating within the context of a long-term, sustainable relationship – such as agreeing a deal with a massive trading bloc that you intend to do at least some business with in the future.

  4. David Pillinger Reply

    March 26, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Following on from John Armstrong’s comment, there are millions and millions of British people working overseas. He shouldn’t treat it like a competition and claim that we have more foreigners in Guildford than there are British people in Stuttgart and therefore we should control them more. The reason we have them is that they are needed.

    People (British or from wherever) have to be allowed to work where their skills are needed. I worked twice in France; no one there gave me grief for that.

    We should celebrate the fact that lots of outsiders come to Guildford. It demonstrates that we have a lot going on and need people to make it all happen.

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