Michael Tomlinson MP: Brexit is the greatest opportunity for free trade and prosperity since the repeal of the Corn Laws

Michael Tomlinson is Deputy Chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), and is MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole.

I grant you that it is an unusual anniversary, and I have as yet failed to invent a suitable soubriquet.  But 171 years ago precisely (well, almost), a speech was delivered which bore fruit in the shape of globalisation and free trade.  At about half past eleven o’clock in the evening of February 16, 1846, Robert Peel stood up and moved the Second Reading of his bill to repeal the Corn Laws.

His speech was given on the fifth day of a 12 day debate (they clearly knew how to do things properly back then), during which a battle between the ideals of free trade and against protectionism was waged. As we seek to persuade the EU and rest of the world of the benefits of free trade, this same fight is as relevant for us today as it was for Peel.

The repeal of the Corn Laws and Britain’s role as a champion of free trade led to a dramatic rise in British prosperity and power in the nineteenth century. However, the current global trading system is of more recent origin. The aftermath of the Second World War saw the victorious allies championing free trade in order to put the protectionism of the early 20th century behind them. Britain again had an important role as a founder member of the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade agreement that became the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and we were an important partner in the post-war effort to get trade flowing again.

Please read the rest of the article here: http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2017/02/michael-tomlinson-brexit-is-the-greatest-opportunity-for-free-trade-and-prosperity-since-the-repeal-of-the-corn-laws.html

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