Brexit Issue 27,024: UK Has Few Trade Negotiatiors

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 7/06/2016 03:43:00 PM
Basically, the UK is throwing all this away and must start anew--while lacking folks with trade negotiation expertise.
Let's turn our attention once more to the so-called "United Kingdom". With its nations pulling apart--isolationist England and Wales struggling to keep Europhile Scotland and Northern Ireland from leaving--its self-inflicted wounds are manifold. At the moment, the Financial Times has an incongruously chipper video about the sheer economic stupidity of leaving the EU and alternative trade arrangements that it can now strike with the EU. As you may have guessed, all are inferior to what the UK now has. 

Not wishing to pile more misery upon our British colleagues so keen on messing themselves up in so many different ways through a single act of sheer idiocy, consider this: The UK does not even have enough skilled trade negotiators to strike deals with the EU--let alone all those countries the EU already has trade deals with, and all the rest of the proposed new British trade partners like China and India. After all these years of having the EU do all the negotiating for them as part of the grouping, the British did not really need to develop such specializations. Atop all its losses, please add trade diplomacy skills to the mountainous pile:
The civil service is badly underpowered in some areas, notably in trade. Britain has not negotiated its own trade deal since 1973 when it handed over responsibility to the European Commission. Sir Simon Fraser, former permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, said last month that Britain had 20 “active hands-on” trade negotiators, and would be up against 600 experienced trade specialists in Brussels.

The government is believed to have estimated that it needs between 700 and 750 extra staff to negotiate not just with the EU but with the other countries with which the bloc has trade deals. “The government is going to struggle to gear up to have the bandwidth to properly negotiate the detailed cross-EU and wider bilateral trade deals across the globe,” said Iain Anderson, executive chairman of communications company Cicero.
Actually, working as a trade negotiator in the the public sector is not all that attractive a proposition going forward (as UK economic activity declines due to uncertainty, government revenues fall as a result, and civil servants' remuneration must also). Besides, even UK Eurocrats coming home would not necessarily be keen about dismantling what they helped built--see the image above.
One leading lawyer said staff were not willing to be seconded to government for the task and that the government’s hopes of recruiting enough people from the private sector for the task ahead was “dreaming”.

“The Cabinet Office needs to come down to reality,” this person said. “They will be confronted with people from the EU who live and breathe its rules. They should focus on getting people back from Brussels.”

To compound matters, some civil servants who have devoted their careers to developing Britain’s relations with the EU say they do not have the stomach to spend the next few years unravelling what they have built.
I'll bet you over 99% of those "Leave" voters never even thought of this eventuality, but then again, that's "democracy in action" for you.