Here is my Christmas wish list for Santa. Ten policy measures which, if implemented, would make future growth prospects truly joyous, with Christmas every day of the week.
But these are also economic policy measures Santa won’t be too familiar with, as he boards his sleigh somewhere north of the Nordic economies. I don’t pretend these are politically possible today, I merely suggest them as a way to substantially improve prosperity in the long term. The list is in no particular order.
The wish list:
1. The government’s Brexit strategy becomes ultra-hard Brexit. Not just trading under WTO rules, but with zero tariffs on all imports into the UK. This is the great prize we should be seeking post Brexit: true free trade on imports into the UK, with the gain to consumers around eight times the cost to producers. The abolition of the Corn Laws in the nineteenth century marked the UK as a champion of free trade. Outside the EU the UK can reclaim that crown.
2. Clear signals that outside the EU (and the EU’s need to negotiate on behalf of 28 countries) the UK will be able to negotiate much more comprehensive free trade agreements much more quickly. Push for a deal with the new President. But we should also remember that, though free trade agreements are nice, they are not a necessity. They are nice presents, but getting out the EU Customs Union is what you really want.
3. The concept of the Anglosphere – a shared economic and cultural identity – develops between the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The wish is for people to see the realpolitik in the Anglosphere due to economic exceptionalism, hard power, soft power and the ascendency of the English language.
4. The UK signals it is open to the world for business, with a commitment to reduce the rate of Corporation Tax to 10 per cent by 2025. This would be the lowest rate in the world outside tax havens.
5. A 30 per cent rule – a long-term commitment to reduce public spending to 30 per cent of GDP, and the top rate of Income Tax to 30 per cent, by 2030.
6. The political courage to fast-track major national infrastructure projects such as Heathrow expansion.
7. Radical liberalisation of the planning system for residential building. We live in the smallest, most densely populated and expensive houses in Europe. Much more land release would mean much lower land prices, and would be a dramatic way of helping first-time buyers get on the housing ladder. In the UK, 90 per cent of the population lives on just 9 per cent of the land.
8. We see the beginning of a commitment to genuine choice in education, with the use of top-up education vouchers, which can be redeemed in both the public and private sectors.
9. The concept of the Anglosphere is backed up by greater defence expenditure in order to help the UK punch above its weight in the world. Use some of the savings from EU budget payments to enhance the UK’s defence capability.
10. Perhaps most controversial of all, have a national debate as to whether or not man-made global warming is really the threat people think it is.