Anyone who claims to know exactly what will happen at the negotiations is spinning a line. Much more important are the preparations and knowing how to manage the political, as well as wider, risks for any organisations.
So here are five thoughts on what public affairs needs to consider:
- Silence – the UK Government does not want to give a running commentary on the negotiations but others, for instance across Europe, might. So listening to Brussels and the European Member States will be at least as important, if not more so, than listening to London.
- Parliament – it will have huge amounts of legislation, both primary and secondary, to deal with. That will mean there is less time to deal with other critical issues. Other policies and potential legislation may be squeezed. Similarly, civil servants will have less capacity to deal with other matters. Brexit will be the only show in town. There will also be a number of MPs who will look to ensure that Parliament remains relevant during the negotiations themselves and in the decisions around the final deal as well.
- Devolution – if the Brexit decision was all about taking back control, then the pressure will be for that not to rest solely with Westminster. Instead, public affairs will have to get used to the idea that there will be further challenges to the power of Westminster from across cities and member countries of the UK as well.
- Dialogue – Ministers are promising more engagement and really want to hear from business. Any failure to take up the Government’s offer would be failing to minimise risk especially when you consider that competitors may well be taking up the offer. There may not be wholly ‘sectoral’ or ‘business’ answers to some of the negotiations and you could lose out if your voice is not heard.
- Brussels – will not disappear at the end of negotiations. That means many organisations will need to consider what the shape of their engagement with Brussels looks like post-exit. The tactics around how to make that engagement as effective as possible may involve considering what the shape of dialogue with UK Ministers is during negotiations.
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