Think tank helped ensure UK-EU FTA “against the odds”


The Institute of Economic Affairs has reached the final of this year’s Templeton Freedom Award, which celebrates organisations that have made a meaningful impact on the proliferation of free market ideas through education, policy research or media outreach.

The IEA has been recognised for redefining the UK’s trade and economic policy after Brexit. In particular, it has been commended for communicating across the political, academic, think tank and media spheres the benefits of free trade after the 2016 referendum on our membership of the European Union.

Though the IEA had no corporate view on whether the UK should leave or remain, it has played a significant role in persuading policymakers that post-Brexit Britain must become an independent free trading nation with the ability to set its own regulations and negotiate its own free trade agreements.

The IEA “Plan A+” paper, which explored how Britain could take advantage of its newfound sovereignty in areas such as trade policy and business regulation, was covered widely across the media. It was championed by a wide range of UK politicians and commentators, and has helped inspire the government’s approach to post-Brexit trade.

Since leaving, the UK has pursued free trade deals across the globe, resulting in the signing of trade agreements with the European Union and 66 other countries worth over $2 trillion.

The winner of the Templeton Freedom Award will be announced on 14th December 2021 at Atlas Network’s annual Freedom Dinner in Miami.

IEA Director General Mark Littlewood welcomed the news, saying:

“The half-decade since the Brexit referendum has been arguably one of the most important periods in British trading history. Against the odds, and after years of hard work and immense challenges, the IEA has been successful in helping ensure the UK adopted a comprehensive free-trade agreement with the EU, as well as agreements with dozens of countries worldwide – exciting and crucial initial steps towards the UK once again becoming the global pioneer of free trade.

“It is an immense privilege for the IEA to be recognised for this achievement, and to be named a finalist for the Templeton Freedom Award – which has a long and prestigious history of honouring the world’s leading classical liberal think tanks.”


Notes to editors

Contact: Annabel Denham, Director of Communications, 07540770774

Mark Littlewood is available for interview and further comment.

For more information about the Templeton Freedom Award, click here.