Current Affairs

Current Affairs

Other contributions online

In addition to this blog, I sometimes contribute to other policy sites. In particular:

I am a Contributing Editor at Wonkhe, a leading higher education policy site. A list of my articles can be found here.

I have written articles for Conservative Home which can be accessed here.

I have written occasionally for the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI),for example here. I’ve also written a report for HEPI, Selective Schools and Progression to Higher Education, which shows that selective secondary schools significantly increase the chance of disadvantaged pupils progressing to highly selective universities, particularly to Oxbridge. Access the report here.

IEA Brexit Prize

In 2014 I won the Institute of Economic Affairs €100,000 ‘Brexit’ prize, a blind-judged competition to find the best policy blueprint for Britain in the event of a (then hypothetical) departure from the EU. The judges included Lord Lawson (Con) and Gisela Stuart MP (Lab), both future chairs of Vote Leave, as well as non-political experts such as the economists Tim Frost and Philip Booth and the historian David Starkey.

My paper, titled Openness not Isolation, can be found here. It advocated amongst other things that, in the event of a departure, the UK should leave the Single Market and Customs Union; form an ambitious free trade agreement (‘Canada-style’) with the EU; drive for new trade agreements with other countries; attempt to continue collaboration in science and innovation; and maintain sustainable funding for areas such as farming. It also argued that a continued contribution to the EU budget of up to 40% of the current level would be acceptable, but that the role of the ECJ must end. Its analysis, concluded that, in the medium and long term – i.e. after the disruption of transition – the economic costs and benefits of leaving the EU would broadly net out, meaning the decision should be primarily political, rather than economic.

The full paper can be found here.

I broadly continue to agree with the overall position advocated in the paper, including the headline pieces set out above (see for example my 2018 article Five Tests for a Good Brexit Deal). Some of the details have though, as one would expect, been overtaken by events. In particular, there are two areas I would single out in the paper as no longer valid:

  • I did not anticipate that the UK governing party would be in a coalition with the DUP. In consequence, the position of Northern Ireland necessarily takes a greater prominence in the current negotiations than it did in my paper.
  • The paper was submitted before Russia invaded the Crimea. Due to this and subsequent events, Russia clearly should no longer feature in the list of countries being considered as potentials for future trade agreements.