The ASI and Brexit

The Adam Smith Institute has no official line on Brexit. Its staff have different opinions on the issue, just like those in other policy bodies. The ASI’s Executive Director, Sam Bowman, favoured Remain in the referendum, and now advocates an EEA-style solution. Its President, Dr Madsen Pirie and its Director, Dr Eamonn Butler, voted to leave the EU and now believe that a clean (and quick) Brexit is desirable.  

Both founding directors take the view that the referendum result must mean that UK laws are in future made in the UK, that the European Court of Justice has no further jurisdiction in the UK, that the UK no longer contributes to the EU budget, and that the UK has control of its borders.  All these were crucial elements in the Leave vote.

We both take the view that the UK now has the chance to trade freely with the rest of the world, since it will no longer be locked inside a protectionist bloc of diminishing economic and political significance. We think our economy will grow faster than those of our EU neighbours now that the UK – always an advocate of liberal commerce and free trade – can negotiate with its own interests at heart, instead of having them swallowed up in the interests of 27 other EU members.

We expect to enjoy very good relations with our former fellow members.  We do not expect the agreement we reach with them to be like any they have with other non-members.  Ours will be different because we have been members and have worked with them.  We do not come to them as mere outsiders who have to start from scratch; the saga of the proposed EU trade deal with Canada shows how difficult that can be.  For us it will be a case of modifying previous ways of working together to take account of the new relationship. 

Like most economists and everyone at ASI, we hope that protectionism will not prevail, and that free trade with those beyond our borders will be the norm. We hope, too, that once in control of our borders, we can be relaxed about immigration, choosing whom we wish to take into our economy, our culture and our society, and taking significant numbers of those who can contribute positively to all of those.

We therefore look to the future with optimism that, outside of the EU, the UK can move forward to a bright future that will enrich the lives of its citizens and provide a positive example to the world. And the quicker we embark on that future, the better for everyone.