The Sunday Times calls for more discussion of ASI Brexit option

'Brexit debate lacks Norwegian model' wrote Cormac Lucey for the Sunday Times this weekend. Arguing that the discussion of the model was too scarce in the Brexit debate Lucey noted:

Analysis of the Norwegian option by the Adam Smith Institute concluded that “EEA countries have a market-based relationship with the EU by having full single market access. They are free of the EU’s political union ambitions, and can class themselves as self-governing nation states.”
The analysis further argued that the EEA position was outside most of the EU’s “common” policies — common agricultural policy, common fisheries policy, common foreign and defence policy, and justice and home affairs measures — but maintains passporting rights for financial services companies — important for London — along with continued participation in some useful science and education programmes. The Norwegian model doesn’t sound too bad at all.

Read the full Times article here. 

ASI Brexit poll results get widespread coverage across national media titles

The latest YouGov and ASI Brexit poll figures, revealing 2-to-1 support for the EEA option in the case of a vote to leave the EU, have received significant media attention including the front page of the Sunday Telegraph Business section. 

The Telegraph reported:

British voters have voiced their overwhelming support for a “Norway-style” arrangement in the event of a decision to leave the European Union that would ensure that the UK could retain its access to the single market.
A new poll, commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute think tank has revealed that support for a deal along the lines of the Nordic country’s relationship with the continental bloc outweighs opposition by two-to-one.

The i:

Norway style status wanted: Britons would like to see a 'Norway-style' agreement if the country chose to leave the EU, according to research. More than half of British voters wanted to keep access to the single market after a Brexit, but not be obliged to follow all EU rules, the poll by the Adam Smith Institute found. 

Daily Express:

A YouGov poll found 57 per cent of Britons believe the Government should consider a deal with the EU similar to Norway's. This would involve retaining freedom of movement and some EU regulations in exchange for full access to the single market.
Just 24 per cent said the option should be off the table if Britons vote to quit the 28-member bloc in two weeks' time. The Adam Smith Institute which commissioned the poll, believes the move would allow a "safe, steady process of disengagement" from the EU.

City AM:

Executive director of the ASI Sam Bowman said the deal would keep the UK in the EEA, thereby taking "the risk out of leaving the EU, providing the time it would take to come up with a unique British solution".
Bowman added: "Voters recognise that the EEA option is coherent with leaving the EU, with large numbers of Leave supporters saying that they would support this arrangement.

The Guardian reported:

Poll position A YouGov poll for the Adam Smith Institute says 57% of those polled say they would favour the UK moving to a “Norway-style” relationship with the EU in the event of a Brexit vote.
Sam Bowman, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, said: This would mean keeping free moment of people in exchange for remaining in the single market, and would be a safe way to leave the EU that would avoid major economic risks or disruption.
If Britain did vote to leave the EU, the poll finds, 73% of remain voters think the first priority for the government should be “ensuring free trade with the rest of the European Union”. For leave voters, the key issue is immigration, with 73% saying “reducing the amount of EU immigration into Britain” would be top of the government’s to-do list.

Sam Bowman reacts to claims pro-Remain MPs will use majority to stay in Single Market

The BBC claimed last week that pro-European MPs were planning on using their majority in the House of Commons to keep the UK in the Single Market in the event of a vote to leave. The Guardian reported:

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the think tank the Adam Smith Institute, which has advocated the UK leaving the EU in stages, welcomed the possible intervention in the Commons. He said:
"This is a referendum on EU membership, not the single market, and MPs would be right to keep us in the single market if we vote to leave the EU. Keeping Britain in the single market would take the main economic risks out of leaving the EU, avoiding the doomsday scenarios out-lined by the Treasury and others.
“The EEA option outlined in a recent Adam Smith Institute report would give the UK economic security while allowing it to leave the EU. In many respects it gives us the best of both worlds – indeed the remain side has emphasised little else of value about the EU during the campaign apart from the single market.
“The EU is not a prison, but the remain camp risks portraying it as such. It is possible to leave without risking serious economic harm, and staying in the single market as a step towards a long-term settlement would give the UK that safe route out.”

Read the full Guardian article here. 

PRESS RELEASE: YouGov Brexit Poll: 2-to-1 support for EEA option with half of Leave camp supporting Norway-style relationship

  • YouGov poll finds 2-to-1 support for EEA Brexit option
  • Twice as many voters pro Norway style relationship with EU than against
  • Almost half of Leavers want Norway option to be considered despite recent claims to the contrary
  • Majority of UK voters would actively support Norway style relationship in immediate aftermath of vote to Leave
  • No clear mandate to reduce immigration at the cost of securing economic stability

 
A YouGov poll released this morning reveals that the majority of voters would support a Norway-style relationship with the European Union in the event of a vote to Leave, involving retaining freedom of movement and some EU regulations in exchange for full access to the single market.
 
The new poll, commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute, found that a majority (57%) of Britons believe that the government should consider a relationship with the EU similar to Norway’s, more than double the number opposed to it (24%). And it’s not just Remainers who support the strategy.
 
Contrary to recent claims that the EEA option would be a ‘betrayal’ of a vote to Leave, those who oppose the Norway model do not make up the majority (45%), and 42% of Leavers stated that they did in fact want the Norway option to be considered following a vote for Brexit.
 
More than half of all respondents (54%) said that they would actively support such a Norway-style agreement as a transitional arrangement for the five-to-ten years after a Brexit vote, more than twice the number who said they would oppose such an arrangement (25%).
 
Britons were evenly split on whether protecting free trade with the EU (41%) or reducing immigration (41%) should be the government’s first priority following a vote to Leave, with 18% unsure, showing that there is no clear mandate to reduce immigration at the cost of securing economic stability even in the event of Brexit.
 
Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, said:
 
"By a 2-to-1 margin, the majority of voters support the EEA Option if Britain leaves the EU as a transitional arrangement over five to ten years. This would mean keeping free moment of people in exchange for remaining in the single market, and would be a safe way to leave the EU that would avoid major economic risks or disruption.
 
“Voters are clear that the EEA Option should be on the table for a post-Brexit government, with even 42% of Leavers saying that the government should consider this option. Our data shows that voters prefer a safe, steady process of disengagement from the European Union compared to a short, sharp shock – even if that safer process meant keeping freedom of movement for up to ten years.
 
"People’s reasons for leaving the EU are varied and this polling rejects attempts by some commentators to frame the referendum as being about immigration alone. Many Leave voters care about sovereignty and ending Britain's membership of the EU’s common policies far more than they do about immigration. Whatever the result on June 23rd, we will be voting on membership of the European Union, nothing more and nothing less. To pretend that it is “actually” about this or that is simply wrong.”

-ENDS-
Notes to editors:
 

*Survey of 1751 GB adults commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute and conducted by YouGov between 6th-8th June 2016.
 
The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.
 
For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

BLANKET COVERAGE FOR TAX FREEDOM DAY IN UK MEDIA

Today is Tax Freedom Day, the first day of the year where Britons stop working for the taxman and start working for themselves, and the media have come out in force to help celebrate and spread the word.

Allister Heath wrote in The Daily Telegraph's Business pages:

The Adam Smith Institute (ASI) has developed a brilliant device to illustrate exactly how much of our hard-earned national output we are forced to hand over to the politicians for them to spend as they see hit.
Their annual Tax Freedom Day marks the day of the year when Britons stop working to pay their taxes and start earning for themselves, rather than the taxman.

Lauren Davidson also covered the story on The Daily Telegraph.

The ASI and TPA joint letter to the editor featured in The Times leading slot.

The Daily Mail ran a piece in print alongside three Mail Online (second, third) articles:

We might be halfway through the year, but today is the first in 2016 when workers get to keep all their wages instead of paying the taxman. It is Tax Freedom Day – and in a clear sign the Government has ratcheted up its charges, it has come four days later than last year. Researchers at the Adam Smith Institute said Britons had to work 154 days this year to pay their taxes.

The Daily Express ran an article in print and two pieces on Express Online (second):

Institute director Eamonn Butler said: “The Treasury hates Tax Freedom Day because they don’t want us to know how much tax we really pay. They conceal the tax burden with stealth taxes we don’t realise we’re paying."

City AM ran a front page box out to Sam Bowman's comment piece in The Forum, as well as their own piece on City AM online:

Ask a random person on the street how much tax they pay and they’ll usually guess around 20 per cent of their income. That’s the basic rate of income tax, and it’s easy to forget taxes like VAT, council tax, beer and wine duties, air passenger duty, motoring taxes and stamp duty.


The Mirror focused on our serfdom in their two pieces of coverage for Tax Freedom Day:

The stealth taxes that mean we've become a nation of 'mediaeval serfs' working for the Government. It now takes an astonishing 142 days' work just to pay your taxes - the longest for 15 years.

The Metro also covered the story noting that 'Today is the day you stop working to pay taxes and start earning cash for yourself'.

Head of Research, Ben Southwood, made the case for lowering taxes on the Spectator Coffee House blog, with TFD also appearing in the Money Digest.

Ben also gave an in depth analysis of what Tax Freedom Day really means for CapX, and Sam Bowman's article on Tax Freedom Day appeared on Conservative Home.

Ben Southwood appeared on BBC Radio 4 news bulletin throughout the day as well as Share Radio in the morning. 

As well as over 300 regional papers and radio stations, other coverage of note included the Sky News Yorkshire Post, The Week, Guido Fawkes, and Economia.

Press Release: HAPPY TAX FREEDOM DAY!

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Head of Communications Flora Laven-Morris, flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 77820

TAX FREEDOM DAY SLIDES INTO JUNE AS TAX BURDEN GROWS

Taxpayers worked 154 days this year to pay their taxes, four days longer than 2015

  • Tax Freedom day falls four days later than it did in 2015
  • Brits work 154 days of the year solely to pay taxes; every day from 1st January to 2nd June
  • Tax receipts projected to be 42.27% of net national income this year
  • Government needs to cut spending and keep tax reform a priority
  • Adam Smith Institute calling on government to raise National Insurance Threshold to help lowest paid in society

Today is Tax Freedom Day in the UK, according to calculations by economic think tank the Adam Smith Institute. It is the first day of the year when Britons stop working to pay their taxes and start earning for themselves.
 
British taxpayers have worked a grueling 154 days this year just to pay their taxes, four days more than in 2015. This year also sees the date creeping into June for the first time in fifteen years, a red flag that Britons’ tax burden is moving in the wrong direction.
 
Whilst net national income has increased by £34.6bn from 2015, government has actually gobbled up £35.4bn more in taxes, meaning the government has actually left Britons £1bn worse off than last year, a reminder that tax reform must remain a priority.
 
The ASI is calling on the government to alleviate the pressure on the lowest earners in society and raise the threshold of National Insurance Contributions from £8,060 up to £11,000, the same level as income tax. Both should then be pegged to the annual salary of a full-time minimum wage worker, so low earners pay no tax on their earnings.
 
As well as helping low paid workers the threshold could even save the Government money in the long term, as many of the lowest paid would be entitled to less in benefits such as housing support.
 
Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Dr Eamonn Butler, said:
 
“The Treasury hates Tax Freedom Day because they don't want us to know how much tax we really pay. They conceal the tax burden with stealth taxes that we don't even realise we're paying.

“But it’s shocking that the government takes over two-fifths of the country's earnings – and then borrows more. We work longer for the government than mediaeval serfs had to work for their Lords!

“It is absurd that people on the minimum wage are liable for National Insurance Contributions, which raise their cost to employers and make it harder to move from benefits into work. The poor are also worst hit by regressive taxes like excise duties on what they buy."
 
Tax Freedom Day is designed to reveal to the public how much they really pay out in taxes, which Britain’s lengthy tax code can often obscure. ASI calculations include direct taxes like income tax and national insurance, as well as indirect taxes like VAT and corporation tax.
 
John Redwood, Conservative MP for Wokingham, added:

“I think it is wrong that people have to work for the government until 3 June and for their families and themselves for only a little over half the year. I want us to leave the EU so we have more of our own money to spend. The UK deserves a tax cut and leaving is the way to get it.” 

-ENDS-
 
Notes to editors:
 
For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.
 
The ASI calculates Tax Freedom Day by measuring local taxes, direct and indirect national taxes, and national insurance contributions as a proportion of the UK’s net national income (42.27% per cent in 2016), mapping that proportion onto the days of the year.
 
Tax Freedom Day figures are not available up-to-date for calendar years so they are proxied from government and OBR forecasts and financial year numbers. They are then revised when exact numbers become available.
 
Click here for more information on previous Tax Freedom Days.
 
The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.
 
 

ASI comments on how free tuition can actually hurt the poorest in Sunday Mail and The Herald

Sam Dumitriu, Head of Projects at the Adam Smith Institute, made the following comments in light of new research revealing that Scots from disadvantaged areas are four times less likely to go to university than those from wealthy backgrounds. Sam said:

“Today's findings show that high tuition fees don't deter poorer students from going to University. In fact, free tuition hurts the poorest students as it implies a strict cap on student places. The current tuition fee system in England and Wales is much fairer, as those who benefit the most from university also contribute the most to its costs.
 
“In line with the proposals in the Governments HE White Paper, universities should be incentivised to improve teaching standards and employment outcomes by allowing them to raise tuition fees above the 9K cap. Students will also benefit from increased competition, so the Government should give degree awarding powers to challenger institutions such as major employers.”

His comments were featured in the Sunday Mail and The Herald.

Latest ASI paper on extreme porn laws lands coverage across national and LGBT media

The ASI's new report 'Nothing to Hide: The case against the ban on extreme pornography' has received widespread coverage across the national and LGBT media.

City AM reported:

A think tank has called for the government to scrap its "ineffective" and "absurd" extreme pornography laws in a report released today.
The new study from the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) claims the laws can be used to incriminate thousands of innocent people, particularly gay men, and are a "blunt tool" for enforcing presumed moral values that are at odds with the "real sexual desires and practices" of Britons. 

Metro reported:

Gay people are being unfairly targeted by ‘absurd’ laws on extreme porn, according to a major new report. A number of sex acts are banned from porn under the new law, including fisting, face-sitting, ‘consensual non-consent’ and many aspects of BDSM. According to the Adam Smith Institute, this has led to minority sexual communities being unfairly prosecuted under the law.

The i reported:

Gay people and other sexual minorities are being unjustly prosecuted for possession of  images showing sex acts between consenting adults under a law banning extreme pornography, according to a prominent think-tank.
The Adam Smith Institute is calling for the legislation, first introduced seven years ago and updated last year to ban images depicting violent or non-consensual sex, to be repealed or redrafted to prevent it being applied to acts that can be carried out safely by consenting adults.

The Sun reported:

Authors at the Adam Smith Institute analysed data from the British Sexual Fantasy Research Project, a survey of 19,000 Brits, to reach some eyebrow-raising findings.

The paper has also garnered interest from the LGBT media being covered across The Gay UK, Gay Times, Gay Star News, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. Th Gay UK reported:

A new report reveals that thousands of innocent porn consumers and in particular gay men could find themselves facing jail time because of the UK’s laws surrounding porn consumption.
The Adam Smith Institute who released the report are calling on David Cameron to abandon the “absurd” pornographic laws. The report argues that there is no concrete evidence that pornography increases cases of sexual violence, and that the laws – designed to convict paedophiles and necrophiliacs – are so broad that they threaten the private sexual matters of over half of Britain.

Press Release: Political Porns: Brits Face Jail Under Draconian Porn Laws

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

Nanny State could get you arrested for private bedroom antics reveals new report

•           A third of adults in the UK fantasise about domination and submission
•           Extreme porn laws blunt tool for enforcing presumed moral values
•           Risk criminalising over half the population rather than catching paedophiles
•           Pornography could actually reduce sexual violence
 
Today, the Adam Smith Institute releases a report urging the government to scrap ineffective extreme pornography laws. The report argues that there is no concrete evidence that pornography increases cases of sexual violence, and that the laws - designed to convict paedophiles and necrophiliacs - are so broad as to threaten the private sexual matters of over half of Britain. 
 
The whole area of obscenity law needs to be redrafted argues the report, starting with the extreme pornography law. The current legislation is so sweeping as to allow those who receive unsolicited images on Whatsapp groups to be charged with possession of extreme pornographic images, with one attempted prosecution for bestiality in Wales involving a video of a badly photo shopped tiger superimposed over a man's body, delivering the line “That’s grrrreat!” to the camera.
 
A survey* of 19,000 adults in the UK found that 86% of men and 56% of women admitted to having viewed pornography, with a third of adults fantasising about playing a dominant or aggressive role during sex, and a third fantasising about being submissive. Six per cent of UK adults, or approximately 2.9 million men and women, admitted to privately having violent sexual fantasies of some kind, meaning that hundreds of thousands of normal people who pose no specific risk of committing sexual offences could be targeted as criminals under the extreme porn law.
 
The paper goes on to argue that the current law could be used as a ‘blackmailer’s charter’ in the same way as homosexuality was before it was legalised in 1967. Completely consensual acts between sexual minorities are being blamed for all manner of social ills, and the individuals themselves are being punished for wider harms for which they are not plausibly responsible.
 
The threat that this law poses to the sanctity of free speech and the privacy of our personal lives is twofold. As well as potentially being used to test the water for more radical censorship in the pipeline, the unspecific nature of this legislation means that it can be used to discredit individuals who are in dispute with a public authority. 
 
Numerous studies have also found that as pornography becomes more widely available, cheaper, or more tailored to individual desire, sexual violence falls. Crackdowns on representations lead to more demand for the real thing.

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute said:

“Most people don’t want the government in their bedrooms, but that’s what extreme porn laws do. This report highlights just how bad these laws really are – they turn millions of law-abiding adults into potential criminals simply for enjoying consensual spanking or dressing up in the bedroom. The evidence is very clear that pornography does not drive violence, and indeed it may reduce it. These are badly drafted laws that should never have made it to the statute books, and this report confirms the urgent need for the government to scrap them.”

Nick Cowen, author of the paper said:

“The extreme porn ban criminalises depictions of sex acts even if they are safely performed by consenting adults. We have seen the law used, in particular, to target and expose gay men. Each such case represents a personal tragedy and a disgraceful use of our criminal justice system's scarce resources. The costs of the law are disproportionate to any public benefit, and as implemented cannot plausibly protect women’s interests for which the ban was supposedly introduced.”
 

-ENDS-


Notes to editors:                                                        
*Data taken from the British Sexual Fantasy Research Project 2007
 
For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.
 
To report ‘Nothing to Hide: The case against the ban on extreme pornography’ can be accessed here


The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Further work by Nick Cowen: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajps.12238/full

Sam Bowman takes on Ken Loach's latest film in The Daily Telegraph

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, argues that Ken Loach has picked the wrong villain in his latest film I, Daniel Blake. The story of people being mistreated by faceless bureaucrats in an unfeeling, capitalistic state is full of despair, but to blame modern capitalism would be wrong Sam argues:

Think about the hassle that the supposed pleasure of going on holiday once involved. Today, travel agents exist to offer cheap package holidays they’ve bought in bulk. Just 20 years ago, they existed because the airline and hotel industries were so bureaucratic that no ordinary person could deal with them directly. Nowadays the really crushing part of travelling is replacing a lost passport or applying for a visa – the two last big holdouts of government “service”.  
In these as in so many other consumer areas, bureaucrats have been scrubbed from our daily lives. Trade and competition – the sort of competition that involves seducing customers from rivals by offering something better – have driven a phenomenal betterment in the lives of everyone, including the protagonists of Ken Loach’s dramas. Both government and business can be bureaucratic, but only businesses have an incentive to improve.

Read the full article here