The right-wing think-tank Institute for Economic Affairs has recently awarded what it’s calling the Brexit prize to a member of the UK’s consulate staff in the Philippines for his essay describing how the UK might try to handle itself in the event of quitting the EU.
This is an attempt to make the case for leaving the EU in an academically respectable and intellectually honest way, and the essay’s author deserves full marks for this. But as a result, he has been forced to acknowledge at least some of the massive risks that the mainstream anti-EU campaign works so hard to gloss over.
Reading the essay carefully, an interesting theme emerges: large parts of it could be republished almost unchanged under the heading ‘Why the UK must stay in the EU’, and be a far more convincing argument!
For instance, the author has to admit that “a significant risk of a UK exit is a drop in the quantity of foreign direct investment coming to Britain, which currently makes a significant contribution to jobs and economic activity”. He also points out that, in any negotiation for access to the EU market after exit, the UK would be in “the weaker negotiating position”.
Astonishingly, for something written from a eurosceptic perspective, the essay estimates the impact on our GDP as falling within a range of -2.6 per cent to +1.1 per cent of GDP — in other words, it identifies a downside risk greater the potential benefits!
For my main comments on the details of the essay, see my article in Progress online.