It has to be the multi-tasking challenge of all time. Theresa May will attempt to pull off Brexit transition timing and an EU trade deal simultaneously. That’s a challenge all by itself but one has to remember that, while she’s setting about accomplishing this, she’s already busy — running a country.

So is it possible?

When Greenland decided to leave Europe, it had one issue. Fish. It still took this tiny country two years to make the break.

The UK has more complex issues, stronger ties and more diverse investment in the relationship going forward.
So why is the PM trying to pull rabbits out of hats when, arguably, all we really need right now is to know who’s wearing the hat?

Breaking away from Europe doesn’t seem like something that should be done in a rush. Like most relationships, after four decades together, hurrying doesn’t seem to be the best way forward. There is always ‘baggage’ to be sorted out and a way of co-existing peacefully and productively to be navigated.

Yet, we can understand the promises of speedy resolution. Under pressure to deliver, there’s an irresistible temptation to please and, perhaps, overpromise.

One of the hazards of her juggling act is how Europe will react. You can’t seek to control the publicly expressed reaction from the other side of the negotiating table; you can only try and anticipate — and ameliorate it.
So, when you look at the pros and cons of this as a strategy — promise everything now — she may not exactly be backing a winner. Unless, of course, a rabbit is in the palm of her hand as she withdraws it from that hat.
Telling someone you’ve been with for 40 years that you’re leaving, that you’re going to do it very quickly and that negotiating that exit will share an agenda with one or two other things (like new trade agreements and running one of the most influential countries of the developed world) could be seen as a slap in the face.

But then it could also be seen as efficient, respectful and a way to move on that frees business and communities to move on too and create new ways to work and live together more quickly. Is that such a bad thing after all? Possibly not.

These are interesting times. They get more interesting every day. With every change, every step forward and every halting reverse there is opportunity for the innovative and the free-thinking in business to advance. Disruption is good for business. Disruption doesn’t get much bigger than this.🔷

(Cover: Flickr / Annika Haas (EU2017EE), Theresa May at the European leaders summit in Estonia, 28 September 2017.)