By Kiran Stacey
A British diplomat based in the Philippines has won €100,000 – and risked incurring the wrath of his government superiors – after writing a pamphlet outlining how the UK should leave the EU.
Iain Mansfield, who works for the business department in the British embassy in Manila promoting national trade interests, won the award for his booklet entitled “Openness not Isolation”, a blueprint for a possible Brexit.
In his pamphlet, he writes: “In the event of an exit, there exists a scenario for an open, prosperous and globally engaged UK that is eminently achievable.”
But his argument undermines the official British policy to stay in the EU, which David Cameron and Nick Clegg have both argued remains crucial for attracting investment into the UK – at least until a potential referendum in 2017.
His thesis beat off competition from more than a dozen other entries, five of which made it on to the shortlist of the free-market think-tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. The judges particularly praised his ideas on how to guarantee British trade does not suffer from leaving the EU.
Commenting on his win, Mr Mansfield said he had no view on the desirability of Brexit but in the event of Britons’ voting to leave the EU his paper set out a course of action that would “maximise the potential for an open, prosperous and globally engaged UK”.
The pamphlet is not likely to gain many readers within government, given both coalition parties’ belief that Britain should remain a member of the EU. The Conservatives have pledged to hold a referendum in 2017 on the issue but the party remains split on whether it should campaign to stay in or leave at such a moment.
Mr Cameron has promised to renegotiate powers with Brussels but remains committed to British membership in the short term.
Mr Mansfield has a history of speaking out against the EU, despite standard restrictions on Foreign Office staff from contradicting government policy with their own opinions.
In his blog, he has warned of “the lack of democratic mandate or popular support, fed by the growing antagonism between northern creditor and southern debtor nations as the sums of money paid by one and numbers unemployed in the other just keep rising”.