Coronavirus has had a seismic impact on our transport networks. With a nationwide lockdown keeping people at home and a stalled drive to get people back to the office, passenger numbers on trains plummeted and recovery is slow. What does this mean for a rail network now reliant on state support? How can we get the industry back on its feet and are the challenges a blip or more long-term?
Syed Kamall (Chair) | Academic and Research Director, Institute of Economic Affairs
Professor Syed Kamall is Academic and Research Director at the IEA and Professor of International Relations and Politics at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. He formerly worked in IT and as a strategy, public affairs and diversity consultant. From May 2005 to June 2019, he was a Conservative MEP for London. In the European Parliament, he was leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists political group of MEPs from 19 countries, and worked to promote open trade, tech start-ups and better financial regulation. As the most senior elected British MEP, he acted as an interlocutor between UK and EU negotiators.
Mary Grant | CEO of Porterbrook
Mary Grant joined Porterbrook in 2017 and has over 22 years’ experience working in the UK and international transport sector. Previous roles include leading Eurostar’s New Fleet Introduction and Business Change Programme, Managing Director New Business Development at National Express, Divisional Managing Director, Bus and Rail at FirstGroup and Managing Director ScotRail. She has a proven track record of improving operational performance and delivering financial success as well as driving positive culture change within organisations. Mary is a Board member of the Rail Industry Association (RIA) and the National Skills Academy for Rail.
Chris Heaton-Harris MP | Minister of State for Transport
Chris Heaton-Harris was appointed as a Minister of State at the Department for Transport on 25 July 2019, with responsibility for EU Exit Planning, rail, cycling and walking policy.
He was Conservative MEP for the East Midlands Region of the UK from June 1999 – June 2009, holding various positions in the European Parliament including that of Chief Whip of the British Conservatives from 2001-2004. In 2010, he joined the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Daventry.
Chris Loder MP | Member of Parliament
Chris is the Conservative MP for West Dorset, elected in December 2019.
Aged 18 he began his railway career with a job as a train guard on the Waterloo to Exeter line, then as a manager for the Bournemouth to Weymouth line. In 2003, he moved from Sherborne to work with major rail operators in London, across the UK and then to Europe in 2010. Returning to the UK railway in 2012 where he became Head of Service Strategy for the railway in the South West. He progressed to lead a team of 300 running the UK’s best performing train company, creating more train services and better connections for Dorset, whilst delivering the multi-million-pound upgrade of London Waterloo station – the largest in Europe.
Mark Phillips | CEO of the Rail Safety and Standards Board
Mark was appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2016. He is deputy chair of the British Transport Police Authority and a member of the Transport for London Board. He is a member of the Department for Transport’s Transport Research and Innovation Board.
After graduating with a B.A. (Hons) in Economics from the University of York, Mark joined British Rail, later joining the privatisation team. He worked for Railtrack as Head of Operational Planning and Engineering, for Network Rail as Regional Director Anglia, and Deputy Managing Director for London Eastern Railway (Anglia).
Mark is a Fellow of the Institute of Railway Operators and a Fellow of the Institute of Logistics and Transport.
In the months since Brexit, the British government has moved assertively to demonstrate its commitment to free trade. The U.K. recently announced an agreement in principle for a free trade agreement with Japan, and it has negotiated a wide range of continuity agreements with existing trading partners. But the U.K.’s most significant negotiating partner as a newly-independent trading nation is the United States. The fourth round of the Anglo-American negotiations have concluded, and both sides have announced their determination to reach an agreement. Join Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for International Trade, as she headlines a panel that includes Shanker Singham and Dan Hannan that will examine the UK-US negotiations and their place in Britain’s broader return to its historic role as a free trading nation after Brexit.
Ted Bromund (chair) | Senior Research Fellow in Anglo‑American Relations Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, Heritage Foundation
Rt Hon Liz Truss MP | Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities
Shanker Singham | CEO of the Competere Group, Chairman of Global Vision UK, a former cleared advisor to USTR and the UK Trade Secretary, and Chairman of GENN (Global Economic Neural Networks)
Dan Hannan | UK trade adviser, President of the Initiative for Free Trade and Visiting Professor at the University of Francisco Marroquín
Already before the coronavirus, the public were losing faith in our state broadcasters. Now, with streaming services booming and multiple BBC bungles, public broadcasters are fighting for their lives. Can and should the BBC and Channel 4 survive in 21st century Britain, and what changes do they need to make?
Martin Durkin (Chair) | CEO of Wag Entertainment Martin is CEO of Wag Entertainment, a television production and distribution company, and has produced, directed and executive-produced programmes covering the arts, science, history, entertainment, features and social documentaries.
Ben Bradley MP | Member of Parliament for Mansfield Ben Bradley was elected Conservative MP for Mansfield in 2017, proudly the first brick in the so-called blue wall that followed in 2019. Ben is Chairman of the Blue Collar Conservatives group which exists to champion working people and develop a Conservative agenda to level up across the country.
Professor Philip Booth | Senior Academic Fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs Philip is Senior Academic Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham. From 2002-2016, Philip was Academic and Research Director (previously, Editorial and Programme Director) at the IEA. He is also the author of “New Vision: Transforming the BBC into a subscriber-owned mutual”
Duncan Simpson | Research Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance Duncan joined the TPA as a policy analyst in 2017 and became the research director in April 2019. He has written on many areas of public policy, including local government spending, rail renationalisation, US fiscal policy and the National Union of Students. Duncan is working towards the Investment Management Certificate and used to be a banking auditor at EY.
Rt Hon John Whittingdale OBE MP | Minister of State for Media and Data in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport John is a Conservative party politician and MP for Maldon. He has served as a junior minister within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport since 2020, having previously served as Culture Secretary from 2015-16. During the 2016 Brexit referendum, he came out in support of leave, one of only six cabinet ministers to do so. In his role as DCMS select committee chair, he led the inquiry into libel and privacy issues, including the phone hacking scandal at News International. The committee was awarded The Spectator’s ‘Inquisitor of the Year’ 2011 award for its work.
Many people deny the existence of cancel culture, but when people can be hounded from jobs for expressing certain views, a proper debate is needed on the future of free speech. ThinkTent, together with the Free Speech Union, hosts a discussion about the rise of intolerance for differing viewpoints, how it affects different walks of life, and asks what can be done to turn back the tide.
Mark Littlewood (Chair) | Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs Mark Littlewood is Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs and the IEA’s Ralph Harris Fellow. Mark is recognised as a powerful, engaging and articulate spokesman for free markets. He also features as a regular guest on flagship political programmes such as BBC Question Time, Newsnight, Sky News and the Today Programme. He writes a regular column for The Times and features in many other print and broadcast media. Mark also sits on the Board of Big Brother Watch, a non-profit organisation fighting for the protection of privacy and civil liberties in the UK.
Inaya FolarinIman | Founder and Director of the Equiano Project Inaya Folarin Iman is a writer, social and political commentator, and campaigner. She is the founder and director of The Equiano Project, a discussion and ideas forum which promotes freedom of speech on issues of race, culture, and politics. Inaya sits on the Board of Directors of the Free Speech Union and is a columnist for Spiked! Magazine.
Laurence Fox | Actor and Activist Laurence Fox is an actor and singer-songwriter, who shot into the political limelight in January 2020 after his appearance on BBC Question Time, in which he gave an impassioned defence for free speech. His remarks sparked controversy, with acting union Equity eventually forced to withdraw their critical comments of Fox and apologise. Most recently, Fox announced he was launching his own political party to reclaim British values and reform public institutions to free them from political bias.
Toby Young | General Secretary of the Free Speech Union Toby Youngis the General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, which he founded in February 2020. He is an author and journalist, and the co-founder of several free schools. In addition to being associate editor of The Spectator, he is an associate editor of Quillette.
Taxpayer support packages have put a burden on the public finances and the full economic damage of lockdown measures will not be clear for months. But none thing we do know is the UK finds its public finances in dire straits. Do we have to accept tax rises post-covid, or does the government need to be bold and ditch the big state economic agenda? Join us for this thought-provoking panel discussion with some of the best thinkers on this critical issue facing the country.
Andy Silvester (Chair) | Deputy Editor of City A.M.
Steve Baker MP | Member of Parliament for Wycombe Steve was elected to represent Wycombe in 2010. He won Politician of the Year 2019/20 in the Civility In Politics Awards and ConservativeHome Backbencher of the Year 2019. Steve became a Brexit minister after re-founding the European Research Group, but later resigned after Chequers. He is now back on the Treasury Committee and 1922 Executive, enjoying being a Parliamentarian first, campaigning for social progress through honest money, free trade and peace.
Mark Littlewood | Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs Mark is Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs and the IEA’s Ralph Harris Fellow. Mark is recognised as a powerful, engaging and articulate spokesman for free markets. He also features as a regular guest on flagship political programmes such as BBC Question Time, Newsnight, Sky News and the Today Programme. He writes a regular column for The Times and features in many other print and broadcast media. Mark also sits on the Board of Big Brother Watch, a non-profit organisation fighting for the protection of privacy and civil liberties in the UK.
Matthew Lynn | Financial Columnist at the Daily Telegraph Matthew is Financial Columnist at The Daily Telegraph, as well as writing for WSJ Marketwatch, The Spectator and Money Week. Matthew is also the founder of Endeavour Press, the UK’s leading e-book publisher.
John O’Connell | Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance John joined the TPA as an intern in 2009. 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. John frequently represents the TPA on television and radio, including prominent appearances on flagship broadcast programmes and documentaries.
A carbon tax has long been a point of contention for many who support free markets. Could it be freedom’s answer to climate change, or are its costs too onerous on consumers and businesses? This panel will debate whether such a tax could be implemented, and the likely changes that would be needed in our economy for it to work.
Danielle Boxall (Chair) | Media Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance Danielle Boxall joined in September 2020 and promotes the TPA’s values and research in print, broadcast and online. She previously worked at the online magazine UnHerd making podcasts and videos as their Audiovisual Producer, and as a newsreader at her local radio station. Danielle has a degree in History and Politics from the University of York.
Stephen Fitzpatrick| CEO and Founder of OVO and Founder of the Zero Carbon campaign Stephen Fitzpatrick is an entrepreneur and founder focused on zero carbon solutions. He is the CEO and founder of OVO Energy which brings clean affordable energy to nearly 5 million customers. Stephen is also the founder of Vertical Aerospace, an electric aircraft company set to reinvent the way we fly. Stephen launched the Zero Carbon campaign in July 2019, following the UK Government’s announcement of its plan to secure national net zero emissions by 2050. The central aim of the project is to ensure that the Government achieves its 2050 commitment by becoming the first major economy to put a meaningful price on carbon.
Professor Dieter Helm | Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford Dieter Helm is Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Economics at New College, Oxford. He has provided extensive advice to UK and European governments, including The Cost of Energy Review for the UK government in October 2017 and for the European Commission in preparing the Energy Roadmap 2030. Dieter served both as a special advisor to the European Commissioner for Energy and as Chairman of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on the Roadmap
Jamie Whyte | Classical liberal academic and author of “Crimes Against Logic” Jamie Whyte is the former Research Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Prior to joining the IEA, Jamie was the leader of ACT New Zealand as well as the Head of Research and Publishing at Oliver Wyman Financial Services. He has previously worked as a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, as a philosophy lecturer at Cambridge University and as a foreign currency trader.
Rich Woolley | Head of Energy and Climate Change at the Chemicals Industry Association(CIA). Rich’s role is focussed on providing an industry perspective on climate policy development. The chemical sector is developing the advanced technologies and materials which will underpin a net zero economy, but chemistry is energy intensive and UK industry competes globally for market share. As the cost of energy rises in the UK, to accommodate a move to zero carbon energy, a just transition is needed to ensure the UK can decarbonise manufacturing, rather than offshore it. Previous to his work with the CIA, Rich was a consultant working on energy and climate policy and corporate carbon compliance.