No Pressure Then

Published: Feb 18 , 2016
Author: Robin Copland

It’s not that David Cameron does not have his troubles to seek as he shuttles around Europe trying to secure support for a modified agreement with the UK’s fellow European Union member states, but I bet you he wishes he had not been quite so cavalier as to promise an “in-out referendum” in the period leading up to the 2015 UK general election.  Politically, he felt that he had to do it to give some kind of sop to the so-called “Euro-sceptic” wing of the Conservative Party and to prevent further haemorrhaging of potential supporters to UKIP.

He finds himself in a number of quandaries

  • He is conducting a series of bi-lateral meetings in what is really a multi-lateral environment
  • He is unable to negotiate with the European parliament – and it could scupper the whole deal before the ink is dry on the vellum
  • He is having to make public commitments in what should be a private series of meetings
  • He personally has little, if any coalface experience of the practice of negotiation
  • He has any number of sceptics who second guess him and criticise his every move
  • The issue is so divisive as to be a matter of principle for many of those critics.  I do not see Sir William Nigel Paul (known to his chums as Bill) Cash, for example, an arch Euro-sceptic MP, rushing to support any deal that Cameron brokers that has the UK staying in a reformed European Union.  He just wants out.  End of.
  • Many of the cleverer European politicians see their bi-lateral negotiations with Mr Cameron as an excuse to get some concessions from him (and why should they not?)

His major issue though is not really with the arch sceptics or the supporters; he has to bring back some kind of meaningful improvement in the current deal that will be good enough to persuade the Great British voting public to turn out and vote and to do so in favour of remaining in the Union.  If he fails, there is a real risk that the current United Kingdom will break up; the Scottish Government for one has already threatened a repeat of last year’s referendum if the UK as a whole pulls out of the EU.

No pressure then.

Robin Copland


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Muck Shift

Just when is a deal not a deal…? I heard this story from a friend of mine the other week; there are some lessons to be learned! So, my pal is a developer and is building some houses on what is essentially a square site. Two sides of the square can be accessed from the road in a neighboring housing estate and the other two are beside a field owned by another developer. There is a huge pile of muck to shift before the actual building project; this phase is known in the trade – and not unreasonably - as a "muck-shift"! As there will be 80 -100 lorries coming in and out each day for 6 weeks, it was considered more convenient to access the site over the field, so an approach was made to the developer to discuss the terms under which he would allow access. This is a standard arrangement and the deal typically is that the field would be returned to the owner in its original condition. Developer makes a bit of money, where otherwise he wouldn’t; homeowners in the adjoining estate are less inconvenienced; builder does not need to spend money cleaning the streets and getting them back to a usable state at the end of the project. Win-win.

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