Brexit: Get it right and Britain can help create a new golden age of free trade and prosperity; get in wrong and protectionism, populism and impoverishment will follow. This panel at the 2016 Conservative Party Conference explored these issues and explained how an ambitious and radical trade agenda could deliver on the promise of a revitalised nation.
Daniel Hannan, MEP for South East England, presented an impassioned vision of Britain’s legacy as a free-trading nation. Hearkening back to David Ricardo’s seminal theory of comparative advantage, Hannan argued that Britain’s best days lie ahead, outside of the European Union and its dampened trading regime. Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, sounded a cautiously optimistic note on behalf of British business, which has begun to take inventory of the external opportunities available to exporters of goods and services. Christian May, Editor of City A.M., reported that the pre-vote pessimism amongst City of London CEOs has begun to dissipate, and noted that the Trade Tools for the 21st Century paper should be the "Bible" of the Department for International Trade going forward. Shanker Singham explained the work of the Legatum Institute Special Trade Commission and the findings of the Trade Tools for the 21st Century paper, which outlines a positive view of the policy playbook available to British lawmakers beyond the European Union.
The discussion was moderated by Giles Dilnot, Director of Communications at the Legatum Institute.
About the Speakers
Daniel Hannan was elected to the European Parliament at the 1999 election, after having worked for Michael Howard and William Hague. He joined the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) when it was formed in 2009 and became Secretary-General of its sister Europarty, the AECR. He currently serves on the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the delegation to the ACP–EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. He is also President of the Young Britons' Foundation and a patron of Reading University Conservative Association. Hannan has written for several leading newspapers, including a regular blog for The Daily Telegraph. He has also published a number of books, including How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters, and Why Vote Leave.
Carolyn is an experienced business leader whose responsibilities and achievements span a range of operational and board roles in a variety of sectors, including manufacturing, media and banking. As a McKinsey consultant and partner, she advised companies across the UK on issues of competitiveness and growth and as Director of Strategy and Distribution at the BBC she created and launched Freeview. She also has policy and government experience, and is a strong advocate for UK businesses of all sizes and sectors. Carolyn has extensive boardroom experience, including as a non-executive director of Lloyds Banking Group, The Vitec Group (a medium-sized photographic and broadcast equipment supplier), global outsourcer Capita, the Competition and Markets Authority and UK Statistics Authority. Previously, she was a non-executive director of the Financial Services Authority (2008-11) and Director of Group Development and Strategy at ITV (2007-10). She began her career as an economist at the World Bank, before joining The Economist magazine as a business and financial journalist. She read Economics at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, graduating with a double-First (1983) and holds an MBA from the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD) and MA in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania.
Christian May is Editor of City A.M., London’s daily business newspaper with a readership of just under 400,000 professionals. Prior to this he was Head of Communications and Campaigns at the Institute of Directors where he was responsible for the IoD’s public profile, campaigns and media activity, and took a leading role in shaping policy on areas including EU reform, immigration, infrastructure, innovation and tax reform. He has contributed to a wide range of national media outlets as a columnist and commentator, and was included in PR Week’s 2015 list of the 100 most influential PR professionals.
Shanker Singham leads the Legatum Institute’s Economics of Prosperity work which examines how countries can become more productive, and the role free trade—with open, competitive markets—plays in helping people of all incomes increase their prosperity. Previously, Shanker was head of market access at Squire Sanders and Managing Director of the Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities project at Babson Global. Currently, he is the CEO of Competere. Shanker has worked with governments and companies around the world on market opening and transition issues, including on the early privatisations of the UK electricity market, the former Soviet Union, the accession of Poland and Hungary to the EU, the transitions in Latin America after the apertura and the WTO accessions of a number of countries, including China and Russia. In 1997, Shanker founded the International Roundtable on Trade and Competition as a way of promoting the notion of free trade, competitive markets and property rights protection around the world. A cleared advisor to the United States government on trade issues, he is also Non-Government Adviser to the International Competition Network. Shanker has also been a senior trade and economics adviser to a number of political candidates including Democratic Governors Lawton Chiles and Buddy McKay of Florida as well as Governor Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
Giles Dilnot joined the Legatum Institute as Director of Communications in August 2016. Previously, Giles spent 12 years as a reporter and co-presenter for BBC Two's Daily Politics programme, where he presented topical reports and interviews with members of the public as well as co-hosting several editions of the show. He also had presenting slots on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 5 Live, and produced several documentaries for BBC Radio 4 including Power of the Whips: The Silent Enforcers. Giles has a BA (Hons) in History.