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Brexit think-tank holds dinner at Princess Anne's estate

  • The Institute for Free Trade was founded by Eurosceptic Tory MEP Daniel Hannan
  • Paid for use of function room at royal’s Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire
  • Two dozen people attended Tuesday’s private event about trade after Brexit 

By Claire Ellicott Political Correspondent For The Daily Mail

Published: 20:06 EDT, 20 October 2017 | Updated: 02:51 EDT, 21 October 2017

A new pro-Brexit think-tank was given special permission to hold a dinner at Princess Anne’s private estate.

The Institute for Free Trade, founded by Eurosceptic Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, paid for the meal and the use of a function room at the royal’s Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire.

Members of the public are not able to rent out the venue, but the think-tank was allowed to stage its event there after approaching the Princess Royal.

The Institute for Free Trade, founded by Eurosceptic Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, paid for the meal and the use of a function room at the royal¿s Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire
The Institute for Free Trade, founded by Eurosceptic Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, paid for the meal and the use of a function room at the royal¿s Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire

The Institute for Free Trade, founded by Eurosceptic Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, paid for the meal and the use of a function room at the royal’s Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire

Mr Hannan said the dinner was planned to mark the bicentenary of the publication of economist David Ricardo’s book on the principle of ‘comparative advantage’, which was written at Gatcombe Park.

Two dozen people attended Tuesday’s private event about trade after Brexit, at which International Trade Secretary Liam Fox gave a speech.

The Princess Royal’s husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, a retired British naval officer, entertained the group, Mr Hannan said.

Mr Hannan added that the IFT had funded the evening, but said it was ‘no one’s business’ how much it cost.

The dinner followed an event at Mercers’ Hall in London attended by around 160 people, including Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke.

Mr Fox and a number of guests then went on to Gatcombe Park.

Mr Hannan, 46, tweeted: ‘We finish with a visit to Gatcombe Park, where David Ricardo devised the mind-blowing idea of comparative advantage precisely 200 years ago.’ However, after the Mail asked him about the event, the tweet was deleted.

Gatcombe Park is Princess Anne¿s private 730-acre estate
Gatcombe Park is Princess Anne¿s private 730-acre estate

Gatcombe Park is Princess Anne’s private 730-acre estate

Asked about the evening, Mr Hannan said: ‘We approached HRH [Her Royal Highness] and said it’s the bicentenary, could we have an event of some sort.

‘She wasn’t around but her husband was and kindly said yes. We looked through [Ricardo’s] books and papers.

‘IFT paid for the dinner and we hired the function room. The IFT is a private not-for-profit organisation.’ Asked whether Anne supported his think-tank, the Tory MEP said: ‘I have no idea what [she] thinks.’

Last year the BBC claimed the Queen said Britain should ‘just get on with’ leaving the EU at a private lunch before the referendum. Political editor Laura Kuenssberg revealed that one of her sources told her the Queen suggested leaving would not be a ‘problem’.

Gatcombe Park is Princess Anne’s private 730-acre estate. 

The 18th Century farming estate was bought by the Queen in 1976 for her daughter and then-husband Captain Mark Phillips. Now the Princess Royal lives in the large manor house with her second husband, Sir Timothy, while Captain Phillips lives in the adjoining Aston Farm with his second wife.

Anne’s daughter Zara Phillips and her husband Mike Tindall moved to the estate in January 2013.  

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