The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in London awarded its prestigious “Brexit Prize,” a 100,000 euro award for the best plan for a British exit from the European Union (EU), earlier this week.
The winner, Iain Mansfield, is the director of trade and investment at the British embassy in the Philippines. Thankfully, there are evidently still a few civil servants who have not succumbed to the British establishment’s decades-long bias in favor of the EU.
As Mansfield shows, Britain could prosper outside the EU. His plan, titled “A Blueprint for Britain: Openness Not Isolation,” calls for Britain to join the European Free Trade Association and a “Great Repeal Bill” that would review and, where appropriate, repeal EU regulations. Together with free trade agreements with the U.S. and other major trading nations, these measures would prevent economic shocks in trade and would reduce the bureaucratic burden on British business, unshackling the wider economy.
The Mansfield plan is detailed, sensible, and—most importantly—optimistic. If Britain left the EU and merely hunkered down into isolationism, it would not be much better off. The alternative to the EU is not isolationism or limited horizons; it is a self-governing, freer, and more entrepreneurial Britain. The defenders of the EU status quo can be relied upon to play scare cards, but the advocates of a British exit must be positive.
Mansfield was not the night’s only winner. The team of Iain Murray (from the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington) and Rory Broomfield (from the U.K.’s Freedom Association) came in second, winning a 10,000 euro prize, and Tim Hewish (from Commonwealth Exchange) came in third, winning 5,000 euros. Three other finalists also produced worthy plans.
And the IEA itself was a winner too. Its creation of the Brexit Prize follows its leadership role in creating the Freedom Festival, a British equivalent of the Conservative Political Action Conference in the U.S., and its publication in recent weeks of important studies of the size of the government “debt iceberg” in Europe and the U.S. and the rise of state-funded political activism in Britain and Europe.
The IEA is one of the world’s most exciting and innovative advocates for free-market economics and a credit to the cause of liberty in Britain and around the world. With the Brexit Prize, it has made a vital contribution to advancing the debate on the EU in Britain. From across the Atlantic, congratulations to it, to Iain Mansfield, and to all the finalists fighting for a free Britain.