Great Britain has not run a trade surplus in physical goods since 1821 – yet the past 200 years have seen a 30-fold improvement in its living standards. The secret of Britain’s success was that it dropped its own trade barriers and bought cheaply. It turned out that trading with poorer countries did not undercut British workers. On the contrary, it gave them more spending power, and so created an array of new industries.
Britain became the wealthiest country in the world – until others copied it and caught up. Her success rested on putting more money in ordinary people’s pockets. Free trade made Britain the greatest nation on earth. With its impending exit from the European Union, Great Britain can once again be a powerful, sovereign free trading nation, with a deeper Special Relationship with the United States and the English-Speaking world.
Daniel Hannan is a writer and journalist. After 17 years as a Member of the European Parliament, campaigning for British withdrawal from the EU, he succeeded in abolishing his job in the Brexit referendum on 23 June 2016. He is the author of nine books, including the New York Times bestseller Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World, and Sunday Times bestseller Vote Leave. His latest book is What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit. He is a graduate of Oriel College, Oxford, where he read Modern History.