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Explain How Britain Can Survive Outside The EU And Win €100,000 'Brexit Prize'

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LORD LAWSON
Lord Lawson is charing the judging panel for the 'Brexit prize' | PA

A leading economic think-tank is offering a €100,000 prize to the person who can come up with the best analysis of how the United Kingdom could both leave, and survive outside, the European Union.

The Institute of Economic Affairs announced on Tuesday it was prepared to offer the cash as an incentive to jump start a "serious" public debate about what the world would be like for the UK if it decided to go it alone.

David Cameron has promised to renegotiate Britain's relationship with Brussels if he wins the 2015 general election and then put the new settlement to a public vote before the end of 2017.

Submissions are invited from individuals, groups of individuals, academia and corporate bodies such as consultancy firms, law firms, accounting firms, think-tanks and investment banks.

Professor Philip Booth, the IEA's programme developer, told The Huffington Post UK that while there had been " a lot of talk" about whether Britain should leave the EU "on the whole the British public and intellectual sphere have no real idea what it would mean if Britain did leave".

The IEA is asking for submissions by 16 September - which will then been judged by a panel chaired by former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson.

Lawson said that it was essential that the "momentous" decision to leave the EU needed to be "preceded by a well-informed debate".

"To date much of this debate has generated more heat than light. It is crucial that we should look into the policy framework that would be needed if Britain decides to leave the EU," he said.

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And Mark Littlewood, the director general at the IEA, said there needed to be some "serious thought rather than bluster" around the issue.

"There is an urgent need to consider the alternatives for Britain’s economic and constitutional position if we were to choose to leave the EU. Exit from the European Union now has to be considered to be a serious possibility. The task of mapping out a successful future on the outside requires serious thought and requires it now," he said.

The judging panel also includes historian David Starkey, eurosceptic Labour MP Gisela Stuart, Booth and other academics and businessmen.

Booth said the purpose of the prize was to "sketch out how Britain could thrive outside the EU" and that the eurosceptic panel would also welcome submissions from europhiles who may want to suggest the "best way to deal with a bad decision".

"There is the issue of what our relationship will be with any remaining EU. If Britain were to leave it may create a complete sea change within the EU and it may not exist in the current form," he said.

Other questions the IEA wants answered include what Britain's relationship would be with the rest of the world and what would parliament do with the huge amount of EU legislation which would remain on statute book.

The prize was launched as Nick Clegg warned eurosceptics of the dangers of the UK ending up in a "halfway house" which could damage the economy by loosening ties with Brussels.

In a speech to business leaders last night, the deputy prime minister warned against a process of "lonely renegotiation" which would harm the UK's position within the European single market as he stressed the Liberal Democrats' opposition to a referendum timed to placate restive Conservative backbenchers.

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