A roadmap to a freer and more prosperous UK after Brexit

A roadmap to a freer and more prosperous UK after Brexit

Brexit gives the United Kingdom a golden opportunity. An opportunity to reduce the levels of regulation on businesses; to embrace global markets; to regain its freedom – economic and otherwise – and let the British people define their own future as a demos.

Some have, however, been looking for plans and proposals to achieve all these factors. Indeed, David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, was even heckled with cries of “is that it?!” when he stood up in Parliament when it returned just before the party conference season. Well, if you’re looking for a roadmap for British Exit from the European Union that will free markets and provide opportunities for growth and foreign investment, look no further.

Updating our entry into the Brexit Prize competition, held by the Institute of Economic Affairs in 2014, Iain Murray and I have produced a roadmap that would allow for a freer and more prosperous United Kingdom to evolve after its departure from the EU.

We suggest a number of things that we hope will inform and push the UK Government to explore more free market options than have hitherto been employed. Proposals such as an immigration tariff based around market principles (rather than a points-based system), a model that more closely follows the New Zealand model of agriculture (rather than the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy), and a desire to embrace global (rather than regional) regulation in the finance sector are all part of a mix of policy suggestions that would allow the UK to excel in the wider (global) world.

It also outlines a process that, if followed, could steer the UK clear of legal troubles and reassure the markets of the timetable ahead. As such, we suggested in the publication that after the UK invokes Article 50, a bill should be presented to Parliament repealing the various laws that established the UK’s membership of the EU and enabled the incorporation of EU law into UK domestic law.

It was therefore extremely heartening that Theresa May, the Prime Minister, announced steps to this effect in her speech at Conservative Party Conference last weekend – setting out the Government’s intention to introduce a “Great Repeal Bill” along with invoking Article 50. At the same time, Parliament should review the body of EU law already incorporated into domestic law to ascertain what can be safely repealed and what should be retained.

Under the process set out in Cutting the Gordian Knot, a Royal Commission on Regulatory Reduction with special powers to present packages of reforms before Parliament is proposed to help unwind unwanted EU laws. This, if correctly established through the steps we lay out in the paper, would streamline the process and bring elements of certainly desired by the market and others.

However, the focus of the publication is to provide a richer and more up-to-date plan for the Government to pursue in order to allow for a more prosperous UK to be realised. That is why we argue that the UK must declare it is open for business, with unilateral declarations where appropriate, and trade agreements to be concluded as quickly as practicable with those nations which indicate a willingness to do so.

Similarly, we as a country must regain control over immigration while not turning our back on the benefits immigration and travel bring to a nation. A market-based immigration system may prove to be the best solution to this problem in the long run. This would generate benefits to the market by stopping sectoral quotas from being introduced and generate benefits for the Exchequer by requiring those entering the UK to contribute a fee upfront. As such, considering one of the major reasons many people voted Leave was a desire to regain control over immigration policy, it would tick both free-market and democratic boxes.

In adopting this roadmap, both Iain and I argue that the best way to achieve the maximum potential for Britain’s exit is to embrace a new relationship with the EU. I am delighted that the Prime Minister has signalled the intention not to base the UK’s relationship with the EU on the Norwegian or the Swiss model. By adopting either of these measures the UK would have restricted its freedom of action instead of being able to embrace the new opportunities (economic, democratic and otherwise) that are possible.

Now is the time to look to the future and and the policies Iain and I recommend in Cutting the Gordian Knot have at their heart a vision of an open Britain that is dedicated to the principle that markets make better use of information than planners.

By following this roadmap after leaving the EU, the UK will have set itself on the road to becoming once again a global economic powerhouse.

Please do read and share our roadmap, published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.