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Theresa May is No Liberal but She's Still Better than Jeremy Corbyn


It's a lonely time to be a classical liberal; none of the main parties are offering a truly liberal-Brexit.

All the main parties in Britain support regulations on pay, fixing prices (typically on energy or alcohol), telling businesses who they can place on corporate boards, all are supporting increased spending and further borrowing, (most noticeably on projects like HS2, foreign aid, pensions, winter fuel, defense or health care). All have industrial strategies.

Theresa May has at least some redeeming qualities, her one-in-two-out rule on regulation, her promise for flatter, simpler taxes and her commitment to free trade, to name a few. Jeremy Corbyn is far worse, proposing a dramatic change in how we accept goods and services, erecting barriers to trade and commerce around the world, he's offering full socialism. Nationalisation, tax hikes, sequestration of assets and a currency collapse that could lead to exchange controls.

Classical liberalism has never been cultivated in any of the main political parties in Britain; only a loose alliance gripped the conservatives in the ‘80s with Enoch Powell, Geoffrey Howe, Keith Joseph and ultimately Margaret Thatcher. It never endured long in the party.

In Theresa May’s manifesto for the election, page 9 carried the statement “We do not believe in untrammelled free markets. We reject the cult of selfish individualism.”

Parties which are liberal in this sense, the FDP in Germany, the ACT in New Zealand, Gary Johnson in the United States, don't succeed, ever. Our acquaintance with high office has only been in the comfort of a broader, usually conservative, alliance.

Still, Brexit offers genuine ground for a more liberal open-economy, take one example, in order to sell into the European Union one must adopt the regulatory frame work of an EU member, just as one must adopt Indian regulations on imports to sell into India, US regulation to sell into the United States, Chinese regulations to sell into China and so forth.

Whereas these requirements would ordinarily only apply to the 8 per cent of businesses that sell into the European Union for a third country, as a member state of the EU, the whole EU regulatory frame work applies to our entire domestic market. That includes harmful and menacing regulations on the city of London, the AIFMD, the short-selling ban, the Financial Transactions Tax.

Outside the EU, European countries don't have to worry about these, Norway adopts about 9 per cent of EU legal instruments, Iceland around 10 per cent and Switzerland only repatriates some EU regulation per its own whim—both Norway and Iceland are members of the EEA and all three are members of EFTA—taking, the better of these models, Switzerland, offers a genuinely exciting prospect for the United Kingdom.

Sad to say, those countries which have imposed swinging cuts to regulation, Switzerland, Singapore, New Zealand have been small, though enormously successful but limited to within their own boarders. Coming from the sixth largest economy and we could change the world. 

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