On Monday 25th January political analyst and war gamer John Hulsman ran a Brexit war game for the think tank Open Europe.
The game ran through the day and featured some heavyweight players including Sir Malcolm Rifkind (playing the UK), former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, Former Irish Taoiseach John Bruton, and Ana Palacio, former Foreign Minister of Spain. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who played the UK in the morning’s reform session, noted: “If this was the real European negotiation this would have been the first meeting of the heads of government and it would have gone exactly as its gone this morning, with all the concerns, legitimate criticisms, anxieties, national positions being put forward. In the last 20 minutes, last 30 minutes people have started focussing on ‘right, where do we go from here?’… I think there is a basis on which we can accommodate the United Kingdom position.”
Coverage of the game featured on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme. The Guardian newspaper thought that the game exposed how Britian might struggle to negotiate itself advantageous terms with its former EU partners. The Economist came to similar conclusions. Capx was more optimistic about a deal being achievable, but shared the impression that real-life negotiations would be messy. Media across Europe reported Enrico Letta’s warning that British government would be unwise to hold a referendum during the summer, when it would likely take place against a backdrop of mass movement of refugees and migrants looking to settle inside the European Union.
Norman Lamont, the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, who played Britain during the Brexit negotiations, was more relaxed. Watch him talking to the BBC’s Daily Politics show, arguing that ionce tempers had cooled a mutually beneficial free trade deal should be negotiable.
You can watch a livestream of the war game here