In Conversation with… Steve Baker MP

Monday 4th October | 16.30-17.30


Mark Littlewood (Co-Chair) | is the Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs. Since 2009, Mark has overseen the expansion of the IEA’s influence and media profile. Mark appears regularly on TV and Radio, often featuring as a guest on flagship political programmes such as BBC Question Time, Newsnight, Sky News and the Today Programme. He also holds a regular segment on Times Radio and writes a bi-weekly column for The Times.

Steve Baker MP | has served as Conservative MP for Wycombe since 2010 and is currently Chair of the Covid Recovery Group and a member of the Treasury Select Committee. Previously Steve has been Chair of the European Research Group, has described himself as a “hard man of Brexit” and spent just over a year as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union in 2017 and 2018.

In Conversation with… Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP

Tuesday 05 October | 17.45-18.45

Rt Hon Rishi Sunak | has been the Chancellor of the Exchequer since February 2020. He previously served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and has been the MP for Richmond since 2015. Prior to entering parliament, Rishi worked for Goldman Sachs and other investment firms. Rishi has a First Class degree from Oxford and a Masters Degree from Stanford where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He has a love of cricket and is also a Southampton FC fan.

Mark Littlewood (Co-Chair) | is the Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs. Since 2009, Mark has overseen the expansion of the IEA’s influence and media profile. Mark appears regularly on TV and Radio, often featuring as a guest on flagship political programmes such as BBC Question Time, Newsnight, Sky News and the Today Programme. He also holds a regular segment on Times Radio and writes a bi-weekly column for The Times.

John O’Connell (Co-Chair) | joined the TPA as an intern in 2009. Since then he has worked at every level of the organisation which made him uniquely qualified to become Chief Executive beginning August 2016. As a researcher, and later Research Director, he wrote major reports for the TPA on quangos, government capital procurement, regional business policy and local government pensions. He co-authored the influential paper How to Save £50 Billion: reducing spending for sustainable public finances, released in conjunction with the Institute of Directors. He also uncovered how local councils were spending Preventing Violent Extremism grants, finding more detailed information than could be gathered by Parliamentary Questions. John oversaw the work of the 2020 Tax Commission. He also wrote and edited several sections of its final report, The Single Income Tax, which won the Templeton Freedom Award from the Atlas Network. John frequently represents the TPA on television and radio, including prominent appearances on flagship broadcast programmes and documentaries. He also regularly speaks for the TPA at events, delivering speeches on the TPA’s campaigns and research. In April 2012 John completed the Think Tank MBA in America, an intensive training course offered by the Atlas Network. He has a BA from Nottingham Trent University and an MSc from University College London.

Quids Inn: do politicians hate the Great British Pub?

Tuesday 5th October | 16.30 – 17.30


Danielle Boxall (Chair) | is Media Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Danielle previously worked at the online magazine UnHerd and has a degree in History and Politics from the University of York

Charlie Gilkes | is Co-founder of Inception Group which owns and operates a number of unique bars, restaurants, and clubs in London.

Jonathan Gullis MP | has represented Stoke-on-Trent North since 2019. Before entering politics, Jonathan was a secondary school teacher in Birmingham. Jonathan studied International with Law at Oxford Brookes University and a PGCE Secondary Citizenship at the UCL Institute of Education.

Emma McClarkin | is Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association. Emma was previously a member of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2019.

Kate Nicholls OBE | is Chief Executive of UKHospitality. Kate has worked in the hospitality sector for many years and has an English degree from Cambridge University.

The UK’s Indo-Pacific trade policy tilt: what does it mean for business?

Tuesday 5th October | 15.15 – 16.15

The Conservative’s post Brexit international trade strategy is notably focused on the Indo-Pacific. The framework behind the UK’s first post-Brexit FTA with Japan looks set to form the basis of the UK’s agreement with the CPTPP. With a deal reached with Australia, and a New Zealand agreement high on the Government’s trade agenda, the UK’s strategic and trade tilt toward the Indo-Pacific is clear, but can this strategy deliver economic benefits at home? Which sectors and which countries should be prioritised? What does Government and business need to do to support export and investment across the UK and adapt respectively?

Mark Littlewood (Chair) | is the Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs. Since 2009, Mark has overseen the expansion of the IEA’s influence and media profile. Mark appears regularly on TV and Radio, often featuring as a guest on flagship political programmes such as BBC Question Time, Newsnight, Sky News and the Today Programme. He also holds a regular segment on Times Radio and writes a bi-weekly column for The Times.

Lord Karan Bilimoria | is the President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and has decades of experience in the world of business and entrepreneurship. He is the founder of Cobra Beer, Chairman of the Cobra Beer Partnership Limited and Chairman of Molson Coors Cobra India.

Lord Bilimoria is also involved in strengthening UK-India trade and investments ties as the founding Chairman of the UK India Business Council, and a founding member of the Prime Minister of India’s Global Advisory Council. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant with Ernst & Young and graduated in law from the University of Cambridge.

The Hon. George Brandis | has had a distinguished career in law and politics in Australia. A barrister by profession, he served as a Senator in the Australian Parliament for 18 years. He was a Minister in the Governments of John Howard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull. His ministerial appointments included Minister for the Arts, Attorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate. As Attorney-General, he was responsible for the reform of Australia’s espionage and foreign interference laws, and played a leading role in the introduction of marriage equality in Australia in 2017.

Anishka Jelicich | leads the government and industry relations team for Pernod Ricard’s three UK-based entities: Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard’s Scotch whisky business); Global Travel Retail; and Pernod Ricard UK (its UK wines and spirits distribution business). Anishka joined Pernod Ricard in 2010. She served as an advisor in the New Zealand Parliament to two government ministers and worked for the New Zealand Treasury and New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has a Masters’ Degree in Public Policy, and B.A. and Post Graduate Diploma in French.

Shanker Singham | is CEO of Competere, a trade law and economic policy consultancy, and Chairman of the Competere Foundation for trade and competition policy. He has advised governments and multinationals on international trade, competition and regulatory issues for three decades. He is a member of the Advisory Council of Wilton Park, a member of the Bretton Woods Committee and the US Council on Foreign Relations. He is an academic fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs. Shanker was a member of the Department of International Trade’s Trade and Agriculture Commission, serves as an advisor on DIT’s Technical Working Group on TBT issues, and is a former cleared advisor to the US Trade Representative. The author of a leading text book on trade and competition and numerous IEA papers, Shanker most recently wrote “Eastern Promises: Assessing the future of UK-India trade”.

UK Foreign Policy After Brexit

Tuesday 5th October | 14.00-15.00

The United Kingdom’s exit from the EU created the need for a wider reconsideration of British foreign policy. This panel will discuss the UK’s global role and the wide-ranging interests, from its now lively trade diplomacy to Britain’s new frontiers in the Indo-Pacific and its investments in cyber and space that its foreign policy must advance.

Dr. Ted R Bromund (Chair) | studies and writes on Anglo-American relations, U.S. and British relations with Europe and the European Union, America’s leadership role in the world, and international organizations and treaties as senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. Bromund, who joined Heritage in 2008, previously served nine years as associate director of International Security Studies at Yale University, a center dedicated to the study and teaching of diplomatic history and grand strategy. In 2013, Bromund was recognized by the Second Amendment Foundation as its Scholar of the Year for his analysis of the Arms Trade Treaty. In 2016, he received the Foundation’s Global Leadership Award. In the same year, he received Heritage’s Joseph Shattan Award in recognition of the quality of his writing.

The Hon. Alexander Downer AC | is an Australian Politician and Diplomat. He served as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1996 to 2007 and as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 2014 to 2018.

Sophia Gaston | is the Director of the British Foreign Policy Group. She is a social and political researcher specialising in public opinion. Her research particularly explores threats to governance in advanced liberal democracies, including – populism, nationalism, cultural insecurity, nostalgia and the rise of anti-establishment movements. Through the British Foreign Policy Group, she works to bridge the domestic and international spheres, to reinvigorate the UK’s international relationships, and to secure the future of the liberal world order. Her recent projects have focused on bringing together the Levelling Up and Global Britain agendas, resetting UK-China relations, and building public consent for an active UK foreign policy. Sophia is a Research Fellow in the Institute for Global Affairs at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an Academic Fellow at the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

Andrew Rosindell MP | has been MP for Romford since 2001. Andrew is the longest-standing member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and is known as one of Westminster’s “most patriotic” MPs. Andrew is part of the small group of Conservative ‘Spartans’, who voted against Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement each time it was put before the House.

Rules Britannia? Better regulation for a better Britain

Tuesday 5th October | 12.45 – 1.45


One in, two out. Successive attempts to cut Britain’s red tape have floundered, with governments of every colour failing to tame the size of the regulatory state. Post-Brexit and post-pandemic, the UK has a very specific window in which to take bold action. Can we establish a better regulatory framework now we are outside of the EU, or do politicians need to fundamentally rethink their attitudes towards regulation?

Ruth Porter (Chair) | has spent nearly two decades working as a public policy and strategic communications professional. Before becoming a Managing Director at Finsbury Glover Hering, Ruth spent four years at London Stock Exchange Group heading up their UK Government Relations and Regulatory Strategy, then International Affairs.

She has worked as a Special Adviser at the Ministry of Justice, DEFRA, the Department for Transport and in the Cabinet Office (to the Leader of the House of Commons).

Prior to that she spent nearly a decade in think tanks, including heading up Economic and Social Policy at Policy Exchange and as Communications Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Sarah Boon | is Managing Director of Corporate Affairs and is responsible for the overall strategy and delivery of UK Finance’s press and campaigns, UK and international public affairs, content, design and marketing. Prior to joining UK Finance, Sarah was Director of Media Relations at London Stock Exchange Group and has worked across a range of communications disciplines at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Bank of England and the Association of British Insurers. She also worked as press secretary to Andrew Bailey as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, acting as his Special Adviser when he then became the FCA’s Chief Executive.

George Freeman MP | is the Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk. Previously Minister for Life Science, Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum, and the editor of “Britain Beyond Brexit” published by the Centre for Policy Studies, George was recently asked – alongside Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa Villers – to lead the government’s Taskforce on Innovation Growth and Regulatory Reform.

Victoria Hewson | is Head of Regulatory Affairs at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Victoria is a qualified lawyer and practiced for 12 years in the fields of technology and financial services, before joining the Legatum Institute Special Trade Commission to focus on trade and regulatory policy. She has published work on the implications and opportunities of Brexit in financial services and movement of goods and the issues in connection with the Irish border. Before entering the legal profession Victoria worked for Procter & Gamble in the UK and Germany.

Philip Salter | is Founder and Director of The Entrepreneurs Network, a think tank for Britain’s entrepreneurs. He was previously Business Features Editor of City AM and Programmes Director of the Adam Smith Institute.

Will net zero punish the poor?

Tuesday 5th October | 11.30 – 12.30


The UK aims to cut emissions to reach net zero by 2050. The challenges this presents to policymakers, and burdens it may place on consumers and businesses, are vast. But who will pay the price? Do we need a new system for taxing carbon? Can the “green jobs revolution” allay these concerns? Can a low carbon economy benefit the poor in society?

Duncan Simpson (Chair) | is Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Duncan previously worked for Douglas Carswell as his Parliamentary Assistant.

Lee Anderson MP | has been MP for Ashfield since 2019. After leaving school, Lee followed his father to work in the coal mines. Lee was previously a lifelong member of the Labour Party before joining the Conservatives in 2018. Lee is married with two children and supports Mansfield Town FC and Nottingham Forest FC.

Ross Clark | is a journalist and author who writes for the Spectator, Daily Telegraph and others.

Hannah Dillon | is Head of Campaign at The Zero Carbon Campaign. Hannah was previously Director of Climate Campaigns at Project Everyone and studied Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University.

Rt Hon Dame Andrea Leadsom DBE MP | has represented South Northamptonshire since 2010. She was previously Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, Leader of the House of Commons, Secretary of State for DEFRA, Energy Minister, and City Minister. She is currently Chair of the Early Years Healthy Development Review. Andrea read Political Science at Warwick University and had a career in finance before entering politics.

Is university still worth it?

Tuesday 5th October | 10.15 – 11.15

As graduates flood the jobs market, a degree no longer bestows the prestige it once did. Campuses are increasingly in the news for free speech controversies, not academic excellence, and the pandemic has exposed pre-existing concerns in the way universities are run and funded. Does the UK need to take another look at our crumbling higher education system?

Emily Carver (Chair) | Emily Carver is the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Head of Media. A regular on broadcast media, Emily is responsible for growing and managing the IEA’s media output. She has a regular column for ConservativeHome and often writes on education matters. Prior to joining the IEA in 2019, Emily worked as Policy Adviser to a Conservative MP and previously spent a year at public relations agency, Edelman. She has a degree in modern languages from Bristol University and an MSc in European Politics from the LSE.

Dr Steve Davies | Dr Steve Davies is the Head of Education at the IEA, facilitating our outreach to students and young people across the country. The author of numerous books and publications, he has recently contributed to the IEA’s collection of free speech essays discussing censorship on campus and in 2020 wrote “To a radical degree: Reshaping the UK’s Higher Education for the post-pandemic world” in which he argues the pandemic has bursting the bubble in universities and higher education, exposing the fundamentally unsound nature of the policy of successive governments and of the entire array of HE institutions.

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP | Rt. Hon. Robert Halfon MP has been the Member of Parliament for Harlow since 2010 and is elected Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee. Prior to this role, Robert served as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, attending Cabinet, from May 2015 to July 2016. Robert was then appointed as Minister of State for Further Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Careers in the Department of Education, a role he held until the 2017 General Election.

Professor Andrew Westwood | Andy Westwood is Professor of Government Practice and Vice Dean for Social Responsibility in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Manchester. He is a Visiting Professor of Further and Higher Education at the University of Wolverhampton and a Governor at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

Andy has recently worked as a specialist adviser to the Select Committees on Economic Affairs and Digital Skills in the House of Lords. He has also been a special adviser to ministers on education, skills and science policy at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and a senior adviser at HM Treasury and in the Departments for Education and Communities and Local Government. He writes regularly for Wonkhe, the Times Education Supplement, the Times Higher Education magazine and The Guardian.

Why does Council Tax only ever go up?

Tuesday 5th October 09.00 – 10.00


Households across the country have suffered wave after wave of inflation busting council tax rises. Why do councils hike tax every year and how can we stop it? Is the problem a lack of central funding or wasteful councils? Make your voice heard to our panel – tell us what your local council could do better and be part of the TPA’s War on Waste.

Harry Fone (Chair) | is Grassroots Campaign Manager for the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Harry is in charge of developing the TPA’s grassroots network to apply pressure on the government and local authorities across the country. Harry previously worked as the Nominating Officer and South East Region Coordinator for the Libertarian Party.

Darwin Friend | is a Policy Analyst for the Taxpayer’s Alliance. He has a first class degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from the University of East Anglia and has previously worked for an MP analysing government policy.

Cllr Charles Fifield | is councillor for Weaver & Cuddington Ward of Cheshire West & Chester Borough Council. Charles is a Chartered Surveyor and previously contested the seat of Bootle in the 2017 General Election

Cllr Meirion Jenkins | is Shadow Cabinet member for Finance and Resources on Birmingham City Council and represents the Mere Green ward.

Cllr Joanne Laban | is leader of the Conservative group on Enfield Council

You can’t say that! Is free speech in peril?

Monday 4th October 17.45 – 18.45

Some say free speech has taken a hammering in recent years. Online, on university campuses, and in advertising, the voices of censorship seem to grow ever louder. But does this reflect the reality? And how can free speech advocates defend the rights to speak, offend, and oppose, from those who set out to silence criticism, dissent, and offense?

John O’Connell (Chair) | joined the TPA as an intern in 2009. Since then he has worked at every level of the organisation which made him uniquely qualified to become Chief Executive beginning August 2016. As a researcher, and later Research Director, he wrote major reports for the TPA on quangos, government capital procurement, regional business policy and local government pensions. He co-authored the influential paper How to Save £50 Billion: reducing spending for sustainable public finances, released in conjunction with the Institute of Directors. He also uncovered how local councils were spending Preventing Violent Extremism grants, finding more detailed information than could be gathered by Parliamentary Questions. John oversaw the work of the 2020 Tax Commission. He also wrote and edited several sections of its final report, The Single Income Tax, which won the Templeton Freedom Award from the Atlas Network. John frequently represents the TPA on television and radio, including prominent appearances on flagship broadcast programmes and documentaries. He also regularly speaks for the TPA at events, delivering speeches on the TPA’s campaigns and research. In April 2012 John completed the Think Tank MBA in America, an intensive training course offered by the Atlas Network. He has a BA from Nottingham Trent University and an MSc from University College London.

Andrew Doyle | is a comedian, playwright, political satirist, and journalist who hosts the weekly Free Speech Nation show on GB News

Marc Glendening | is Head of Cultural Affairs at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Before joining the IEA, Mark worked for Policy Exchange focusing on freedom of speech related issues and the political implications of human rights law

Julia Hartley-Brewer | is a broadcaster and newspaper columnist who presents a weekday morning radio show on the talkRADIO station. Julia is also a regular panellist on BBC One’s Question Time and appears as a pundit on Sky News and the BBC News Channel.