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02nd June 2016

Economics professors debate EU referendum at Rector’s Seminar

Last week two leading professors of economics debated whether the UK should leave the European Union at an Exeter College Rector’s Seminar, which was also a Santander Seminar in Economics.

On Wednesday 25 May Patrick Minford, Professor of Applied Economics at Cardiff Business School, spoke in favour of the UK leaving the EU.  Jagjit Chadha, Professor of Economics at the University of Kent and Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, argued the case for the UK remaining in the EU.

Professor Minford, speaking first, argued that the UK would prosper outside the EU provided that it pursued a truly ‘free trade’ economy:  the UK should not surround itself with new trade barriers if it found itself outside the tariff walls of the European Union.  Professor Chadha then emphasised the many economic benefits – especially the free movement of people and goods throughout the world’s largest market – brought by the EU.  He also stressed the considerable economic shocks that Brexit might inflict and the harmful uncertainty that a ‘leave’ vote would in any case produce.  In rebuttals the two speakers disagreed on many issues, not least the current balance of economic advantage and economic disadvantage brought to the UK by EU membership.  Yet, throughout the evening (including the lively question-and-answer period) the two economists also acknowledged common ground on a number of points.  This partial convergence contributed to a very positive atmosphere, leaving many members of the audience evidently preferring the seminar to many current radio and television debates about Brexit in which rival speakers seem to agree on nothing at all.

The seminar was very well attended by students, fellows and alumni. It was organised by Rector Trainor and by Professor Martin Ellison, Professor of Economics and Fellow of Nuffield College and a former fellow of Exeter College.

For a full list of Exeter Rector’s Seminars held in Trinity Term 2016 click here.

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