As the EU referendum approaches, the Legatum Institute hosted a debate on Britain’s role in the world with Steve Baker (MP for Wycombe), Gideon Rachman (Financial Times) and Anne Applebaum (Legatum Institute).
The panel began the discussion with their views on Britain’s economic and foreign policy role in the world, and in relation to Continental Europe.
The possibility of Britain remaining in the Union with a more competitive and pro-free market framework was addressed; Rachman took issue with the idea that EU-mandated regulations were choking the British economy. Instead, he posited, the most pernicious anti-competitive regulations come from the countries themselves (eg. the French labour market). Moreover, even if Britain left the European Union, any British company wishing to export to the EU would be forced to comply with the same EU standards.
Applebaum noted the extraordinary influence which Britain holds within the European Union, and the extent to which British MEPs vote with the Franco-German core of the bloc. She also noted the strength of the European Union as a union containing Britain, and its ability as a group to counterbalance serious geopolitical threats from Russia.
On the issue of the European Bill of Rights, Rachman said that Britain signed on to the treaty, and should remain a signatory, because of its own strength and credibility in promoting those values around the world.
Baker promoted the internationalist core of the Leave campaign, and argued that Britain should refocus its trade aims towards the ‘rest’ of the world. He refuted the idea that Britain’s trade would be dependent upon actual bilateral or multilateral trade agreements, especially in the case of Britain’s robust trade in services.
This event, which forms part of the Legatum Institute's Economics of Prosperity programme, was kindly supported by Mirabaud
About the Speakers
Steve Baker is MP for Wycombe. His career began in the Royal Air Force as an engineer officer. He became a Chartered Engineer through the Royal Aeronautical Society and held a military airworthiness licence. After his time with the RAF, he read for an MSc in Computer Science at Oxford University (St Cross College) and joined a specialist, entrepreneurial software firm as Head of Consulting and Product Manager before taking on various senior roles in business software. In partnership with Toby Baxendale and others, Baker co-founded The Cobden Centre, an educational charity for social progress through honest money, free trade and peace. He has twice been elected to the Executive of the Conservative 1922 Committee and is a member of the Treasury Select Committee.
Gideon Rachman is Chief Foreign Affairs columnist for the Financial Times. He was named as commentator of the year in the European Press Prize awards in 2016. His book Zero-Sum World was published by Atlantic in 2011 and has been translated into eight languages. Before joining the FT in 2006, he worked for The Economist for 15 years in a range of jobs, including as a foreign correspondent in Brussels, Bangkok and Washington. He writes regularly about the European Union, US foreign policy and geopolitical rivalries in Asia, amongst other subjects.
Anne Applebaum is Director of the Legatum Institute's Transitions Forum. She is also a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate, and the author of several books, including Gulag: A History, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction as well as other awards. Her most recent book, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1946, won the 2013 Cundill Prize for Historical Literature and was nominated for a national book award in the US. Applebaum is a frequent commentator on the the politics of transition in Russia, central Europe and other former communist states, but she has also written extensively about British, American and European politics and international relations. She is a former member of the Washington Post editorial board, a former deputy editor of the Spectator magazine, a former political editor of the Evening Standard and a former Warsaw correspondent of The Economist.
Shanker Singham leads the Legatum Institute’s Economics of Prosperity programme. Singham is currently an economic advisor to the Marco Rubio Presidential campaign, and a former senior adviser to the Romney campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Previously, he 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.