The British economy would grow by £1.3bn a year if the country left the European Union, according to the head of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) in Manilla. The claim formed part of his winning entry for the Brexit Award, for the best blueprint for what Britain should do if it left the European Union.
On Tuesday the Institute of Economic Affairs awarded the €100,000 prize to Iain Mansfield, a British diplomat based in the Philippines, who heads up UKTI in the country.
Mansfield said Britain could join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) to avoid bureaucratic burdens on business linked to Britain’s membership of the EU. Positioning itself in a similar way to Switzerland and Turkey, both of which have access to European markets without being an EU member.
He also cited the example of Canada, that survives as an independent country despite being dwarfed economically by its nearest neighbour: The United States of America.
Mansfield argues “exiting from the EU should be used as an opportunity to embrace openness”. He claimed that fewer regulations, coupled with greater trade with emerging economies, could provide a boost to the British economy.
He also said an exit from the EU would free the City of London from “European interference”.
As one of the net contributors to the EU, a British departure would enable the country to pay down its deficit and still have a £10bn surplus, he said. Something that Euro-sceptics refer to as the “independence dividend”.
“I take no position on whether a Brexit is desirable, but in the event of such a decision by the people of Britain, my paper sets out a course of action that would maximise the potential for an open, prosperous and globally engaged UK” he said.
Although Mansfield took no position on whether the UK should leave the EU his award will prove embarrassing to the government funded UKTI. One of there seven official reasons to invest in the UK is that its a “proven gateway to the $17tn EU market.”
The 30-year-old father of one received the award from Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer.