LONDON (Reuters) - A free market think-tank offered a 100,000 euro (86,435.2 pounds) prize on Tuesday for the best strategy to allow the British economy to prosper if the country voted in a referendum to end its 40-year membership of the European Union.
Britain is locked in a heated debate over its role in the European Union after Prime Minister David Cameron, under heavy pressure from the eurosceptic wing of his own party, promised in January to claw back powers from Brussels and put any new settlement to an ‘in-out’ vote by the end of 2017.
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a right-wing think-tank that has described the EU as an “unaccountable regulatory superstate”, said Britain’s withdrawal was a serious possibility after Cameron’s referendum pledge.
The “Brexit Prize” will go to the best plan explaining how Britain can successfully pull out of the 28-nation bloc and find a new place in the global economy. The deadline for submissions is September 16 and the winner will be announced in 2014 to coincide with elections to the European Parliament.
Pro-EU campaigners say withdrawal from the EU would be economic suicide and would damage Britain’s world standing.
The judging panel is chaired by Nigel Lawson, a former Conservative finance minister who said in May that withdrawal from the European Union could benefit Britain’s economy. It also includes eurosceptic Labour lawmaker Gisela Stuart.
“Much of this debate has generated more heat than light,” Lawson said. “It is crucial that we should look into the policy framework that would be needed if Britain decides to leave.”
Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Jon Boyle