Iain Mansfield, a 30-year old member of the diplomatic service based at the
British embassy in Manila, on Tuesday evening was announced as the winner of the
€100,000 IEA Brexit Prize - - “Openness not Isolation” - - a blueprint for a
possible exit of Britain from the European Union.
Mansfield is the director of Trade and Investment at the UK’s embassy in the
Philippines and has previously worked for the Department of Business, Innovation
and Skills and his winning entry calls for the UK to join
the European Free Trade Association, as well as for the introduction of
Repeal Bill’ to bring about
a comprehensive review and, where appropriate, repeal, of EU regulations. These
measures would prevent economic shocks in trade and would reduce the
bureaucratic burden on British business, unshackling the wider economy.
He writes: “In the event of an exit, there exists a scenario for an open,
prosperous and globally engaged UK that is eminently achievable” and he concludes that a Brexit must ultimately be a political rather than an
economic decision, yet calculates that if it occurred, the UK economy would
experience a £1.3bn
increase in GDP. Significantly fewer regulations, coupled with greater
trade with emerging economies, could provide an overwhelmingly positive future
outlook for an independent Britain.
The submission argues that the single
highest economic priority in the event of a ‘no’ vote would be to ensure the
maintenance of zero tariffs on trade between the UK and the EU in all areas
apart from agriculture. It also strongly makes the case for the importance of an
exit from the Single Market. Staying in would mean retaining almost all of the
most onerous and controversial aspects of EU membership.
Lord Lawson, the former Conservative chancellor,
was a member of the judging panel of the Institute of Economic Affairs -- a
free-market think tank.
David Cameron, prime minister, has promised a referendum by 2017 if he is
still in Downing St.
To compensate for reduced access to the Single Market, a post-EU UK should:
- Negotiate membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), though
remaining outside the European Economic Area. The precise degree of
closeness should be somewhere between
the positions of Switzerland and Turkey.
- Pursue free trade agreements with major trading nations such as China and
- Deepen its engagement with organisations such as the G8, G20 and OECD.
- Cultivate bilateral strategic relationships with traditional allies such as
Australia, Canada and France.
- Forge new relationships with emerging powers in Asia and Latin America.
- Establish a formal ‘EU out-group’ of European countries outside the EU but
with close trading arrangements, to allow these countries to speak with a
stronger voice in discussions with the EU.
- Regulation. A tailored
approach to regulation would undoubtedly produce better results than the
one-size-fits-all approach necessitated by EU membership.
- Specific regulations to repeal due
to their damage to the UK economy include: The Working Time Directive,
several agricultural regulations such as EU bans on pesticides, binding
renewable energy targets, and health and safety laws imposed on businesses
and SMEs operating purely domestically. All of these push up costs for both
UK businesses and consumers.
- Judicial. The government
should establish and resource a cross-party commission to reassert the
supremacy of UK law and British courts.
- Inward Investment. The government, by engaging business
organisations, should conduct a strong and sustained outwards campaign to
communicate the reality of terms of exit. Measures such as tax breaks and
supply-side incentives should also be introduced to help preserve the UK’s
position as the number one inward investment destination in Europe.
- Economic incentives include: A
reduction in the rate of corporation tax to 15% over 5 years; the creation
of special economic zones in poorer regions of the UK with incentives for
investors such as National Insurance holidays and tax breaks; and a rise in
the Research and Development tax credit for new investors by 25% over the
standard rates for two years to encourage investment and job creation.
- Reducing the deficit. As
a net contributor to the EU, after reallocating funds the UK would enjoy a
£10bn surplus. This should be used to pay down the deficit, but some must be
spent on increasing the UK’s administrative capacity in areas that have
previously been the competence of the EU.
Commenting on his win, Iain Mansfield, who is director of Trade and Investment
at the British Embassy in Manila, said: “At the core of Brexit policy should be an embrace of openness: openness to
global trade, openness to worldwide diplomatic partners, and openness to
international business and investment. Leaving the EU would involve an inevitable
trade-off between access to the single market and independence from European
regulations, legislation, and budgetary contributions.
“I take no position on whether a Brexit is desirable, but in the event of such a
decision by the people of Britain, my paper sets out a course of action that
would maximise the potential for an open, prosperous and globally engaged UK.”
Lord Nigel Lawson, chairman of the judging panel, said:
“'The British people have been promised a referendum on whether
the UK should leave the European Union. There are few more important decisions
than this. In advance of that decision the issues need to be fully debated, and
an essential element of the debate will be an understanding of how the UK might
conduct itself if and when we leave.
“Iain Mansfield's prize-winning entry provides an excellent starting point for
this important debate, written with the experience of a serving member of the
Diplomatic Corps with a solid background in trade policy.'”
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