It is astounding to hear some politicians talk of keeping No Deal on the table, only to state in almost the same breath that a no-deal outcome must be avoided. These people are not equipped to lead. I say to all politicians: beware of the “Peter principle” whereby someone quite good in their role gets promoted into a position beyond their level of competence. The principle has been perfectly illustrated by the soon to be ex-Prime Minister and the now shaky Leader of the Opposition. Any survivor in business knows that you never go into any negotiation without being prepared to walk away – even if the loss of the job could mean a considerable waste of resources and some short-term hardship until you find something else. Lessons in negotiation can be taken from a child; they know what they want and are prepared to put up with upset and pain until they succeed (success is often the case). Indeed, they learn early on that to concede on any ground loses them their goals. And guess what, after the worst ever divisions, everything settles down until of course the next time they are told they can’t have what they want. While that’s at a very instinctive level, the art of negotiation is supposed to develop as we grow older and gain experience and it is something that most of us do without even realising it. However, there are some who have had to hone their skills on negotiation beyond the normal for fear of failure which could mean no groceries for their staff and their families as many of us in business have had to do. Politicians by and large do not carry that fear: they do not have to make a profit at the end of the day, nor do they have to worry about where the next job is going to come from. They do not have to carry the everyday pressure of ensuring adherence to the endless amounts of bureaucracy that a business has to deal with before it can get to work. They do not have to worry about late payers, deliberate and illegal holding of money, a content workforce, training, the health safety and welfare of all, taxes, mental health etc. etc. Not only are many politicians out of touch with the reality of life outside the Westminster bubble, they continue to misunderstand the electorate and haven’t got the foggiest idea on how to negotiate. For politicians – and particularly those who are putting themselves forward as the nation’s next leader – to say that we will plan for No Deal but must have a deal shows a failure to understand the principle of negotiation; and if indeed they believe what they say, then it shows just how unfit they are to lead our country. To put one’s political ambition above country will undoubtedly end in failure. The only honest and acceptable negotiating stance is one that states the desired outcome – that we leave the EU. Not how we leave or the terms upon which we wish to negotiate. This was one of many mistakes made by Theresa May and her team. To continue in this vein would forever damage our democracy (and lead to the destruction of the Conservative Party). To be clear, whoever it is who wants to lead our country and undo the damage done, must state unequivocally that we will leave the EU on 31st October 2019. They must believe in it and stick to it, no matter what. While a trade agreement would be preferable, it cannot be a requirement. It is only when there is someone who is prepared to stay the course that we will have found our new leader. I also think that in the event that the current contenders fail in this regard, then one of the “Spartans” should stand as their belief has never been in doubt. There are a few potential candidates and for me, Steve Baker ticks many of the required boxes.