The WeekLI

The WeekLI


Prosperity UK Conference looks to make Brexit a success.

Matthew Elliott warns populism isn’t dead; it’s just not confined to the right.

Mexico’s Secretary of Economy comments on trade opportunities.


Prosperity UK hosted its inaugural conference this week to address the major challenges and opportunities which Brexit presents to the UK.

Prosperity UK and the Legatum Institute share a commitment to tackling the the biggest challenges we face as a nation. We were neutral during the referendum – however, now that the decision has been made to leave the European Union, we are committed to playing a positive role in mapping out Britain’s post-Brexit future.

The conference focused on four work streams: trade, the City, the domestic agenda, and universities, research and the knowledge economy.

As a partner with the conference, the Legatum Institute’s Special Trade Commission led the trade stream. There were presentations and discussions on the WTO rectification process, the prospects for a North Atlantic free trade agreement, the future of UK trade policy, unilateral liberalisation, the European perspective on Brexit, and how trade policy can create genuine economic partnerships with the developing world.

“In our experience, the benefits of Free Trade Agreements far exceed pre-agreement analysis”
Sir Lockwood Smith, former NZ Trade Minister

More information

The conference is independent of the political parties and aims to generate and examine ideas about what Brexit means for the future of the country. The conference is specifically non-partisan. It creates a forum for debate but will not promote or oppose any particular party policy position.


The first round of voting in the French presidential election sees centrist, pro-European Emmanuel Macron and hard right, Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen go head to head with pollsters predicting a comfortable win for Macron.

With this potential win, it might seem populism in France is dead.

As part of his Senior Fellowship at the Legatum Institute, Matthew Elliott is tracking the rise of populism and examining the underlying factors contributing to the rise (or otherwise) of populist movements across the world. His guide to the French election follows his first paper in the series on the recent Dutch election.

Matthew’s analysis and the excellent polling analysis by James Kanagasooriam and Claudia Chwalisz from Populus warns we shouldn’t be so quick to write off populism in France.

There are still the National Assembly election to go and the question remains, will Macron be able to translate his success in the presidential election into a stable governing coalition in the National Assembly?

Matthew doesn’t predict a landslide victory for Macron because for this to happen, he would need to draw massive support from both left and right.

For the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic neither the Socialists nor the Republicans will be on the ballot paper in the second round or presidential voting. When traditional parties of government are displaced by new parties or parties previously consigned to the fringes of politics, the mould of politics is truly being broken.

Macron’s win in this first round – a victory for his new insurgent party, En Marche! – doesn’t signify the end of populism or anti-establishment politics, it simply means it isn’t confined to the right.

Read the report here


In 2016 France moved up the the Legatum Prosperity Index™ one rank to 18th. It has ranked in the top 30 across all sub-indices for the past ten years with the notable exception of Social Capital.

Despite a stable ranking, a declining Economic Quality score and weakening social cohesion threaten France’s future prosperity. The concern is that France, with falling market competitiveness and looser social ties, will struggle to sustain prosperity growth as foundations are weakened.

This may go some way to explaining the electoral dynamics we are seeing in the current presidential elections.

Read more here

While France is prosperous in many ways, it could do more with its wealth: it is the consistent “under performer” of Europe’s ‘Big Three’ – France, Germany & the UK.


With the future of NAFTA under discussion and the UK looking across the globe to enhance trading relationships post-Brexit, we were delighted to welcome Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal to the Legatum Institute.

In an interview with our Director of Economic Policy, Shanker Singham, Secretary Villarreal offered his unique perspective from the nexus of trade and politics.


The insights he shared from Mexico’s experience in unilateral liberalisation, and liberalisation through free trade agreements will prove valuable as we seek to ensure the UK makes the most of opportunities to bring greater prosperity to the British people following Brexit.

Secretary Villarreal spoke positively about the prospects for a UK-Mexico Free Trade Agreement, as well as the possibility of the UK acceding to NAFTA, TPP or the Pacific Alliance trade bloc.

Listen to the event here


University graduates are at an ideal time in their lives to start businesses. Through their exposure to a range of ideas and activities they are particularly disposed towards developing innovative business ideas and meeting potential co-founders.

Yet start-up rates among graduates remain low – at least compared to the potential. For many graduates, starting a business simply feels too risky compared to a stable job in the corporate world. Others simply have no idea where to start.

In its latest report – Putting the uni in unicorn: the role of universities in supporting high-growth graduate startups – the Centre for Entrepreneurs, housed within the Legatum Institute, argues that more universities should be offering their graduates tailored incubation programmes to bridge this gap.
By incubating graduate entrepreneurs, universities could drive economic growth and innovation, boost local graduate retention, contribute to the government’s policy agenda in higher education and industrial strategy, bolster student recruitment and, most importantly, help more young people fulfil their aspirations.

Read the report here


‘UK needs to find its “swagger” to thrive post-Brexit’ City A.M. features an article on the Prosperity UK conference  READ HERE

‘Business bosses put their heads together over Brexit challenges’ Sky News comments on the Prosperity UK Conference  READ HERE

‘Britain urged to join NAFTA and TPP after Brexit’ coverage from The Sydney Morning Herald on the Prosperity UK Conference  READ HERE

‘How can Britain get fix for Brexit?’ CapX reports on the Prosperity UK Conference  READ HERE

‘Have a little swagger CEOs tell May in bid to make Brexit pay’ Reuters covers yesterday’s Prosperity UK Conference  READ HERE

Our Senior Fellow Matthew Elliott discussed all the latest on the French election with Adam Boulton on Sky News’ All Out Politics  WATCH HERE

Matthew Elliott writes for The Times Red Box on his predictions for the French election READ HERE

Matthew Elliott writes for City A.M. about the implications for the euro, the EU and Brexit should Emmanuel Macron win the French election as predicted by pollsters READ HERE

Matthew Elliott writes for the Huffington Post about the impact of a populist win in the upcoming French elections on the rest of the European Union READ HERE

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