As part of the Legatum Institute’s Business Forum
, Hugo Dixon
, International New York Times columnist and Chairman of pro-EU campaign initiative InFacts, discussed the likely consequences of ‘Brexit’, making the case for continued UK membership of the European Union.
Dixon argued that the negative impact of Brexit would be both immediate, in the form of economic shock and dislocation, and longer term from reduced or uncertain access to markets. He emphasised that the Leave camp did not seem to have a clear idea of what their proposed alternative trade relationship was, with Norway, Switzerland and then Canada all having been successively floated as replacements for the common market.
However, he stressed the Remain argument also has its flaws, centred on a scare strategy around the economic risks of an EU exit. Dixon argued that a three-pronged approach was needed, with the economic case supported by an argument about the geopolitical risk of Brexit, and an overarching positive vision to enthuse ‘In’ voters of the role Britain could play in a future Europe. He laid out the prospect of a ‘Greater Britain’, leveraging its diplomatic, military and growing economic powers to take the lead in Europe, possibly overtaking Germany as the bloc’s largest economy.
Responding to questions from Business Forum members citing the more bureaucratic, statist traditions of much of the continent, Dixon highlighted the fact that the Euro debt crisis has forced a wave of economic liberalisation on the traditionally sluggish economies of Southern Europe, and that this gave Britain more allies in arguing for freer trade and competition across the Union. He closed with a reminder of the huge opportunities available to the UK through completion of the single market in digital, capital markets, energy and services more widely.
The discussion was moderated by Cristina Odone, Director of the Centre for Character and Values at the Legatum Institute.