17th January 2018
Writing: Sam Lane (Year 13)
Photography: C. Ford
Editing: Matt Dagnall (Year 13)
For the second time this year, Sixth Form economics students visited London School of Economics (LSE) to hear a lecture from Liam Halligan and Dr Gerard Lyons who together wrote the book Clean Brexit, arguing the view that Britain should leave the EU entirely. The lecturers both gave two speeches, outlining their views and reasoning.
Dr Lyons made some very interesting points suggesting that the EU was not an economic project but a political one - he harkened back to the founding of the EU when it was originally the European Coal and Steel industry, which the UK did not join. A rather controversial point he made, which was disputed during the questions afterwards, was that 'if you ask any European, they see the EU as not an economic union but a political one'; a notion challenged by the many European members of the audience. Dr Lyons also highlighted the importance of British sovereignty and how we should preserve it, rather than joining the 'United States of Europe'. Lyons argued that not only should Britain leave the EU but it should also leave the customs union and go back to WTO rules if an agreement could not be reached. He did not disguise the fact that it would be hard, but he viewed the potential future economic benefits as worth the challenge.
If you ask any European, they see the EU as not an economic union but a political one
Both of the lecturers were very thorough in explaining their belief that whilst leaving the EU will be detrimental in the short term, it will be beneficial in the future. Liam Halligan mentioned the decrease of European power; noting that 'the EU in 1980 made up 34% of world GDP, now it makes up just 20%' and highlighting that this trend is expected to continue. Of the two lecturers Mr Halligan was the more controversial; audience members could be seen to scoff at some of his notions, such as the EU being one of the most protectionist groups in the world. Continuing with this controversial trend, he touched upon the unsteady subject of Northern Ireland and its relationship to the Republic after a clean Brexit. He stated that no one wanted a deal more than the Republic of Ireland and that an agreement would be reached. Half Irish himself, Halligan used this to argue that he understood racism against migrants in the UK at the current time; a point some thought touching, and others thought insensitive.
Whilst many of the viewpoints the lecturers gave were not received with open arms, they certainly gave all of the Sixth Form students that attended food for thought. Thanks to the Economics Team for organising this visit.