Ruth Jane Lea, FRSA (born 22 September 1947) is a British political economist working in the financial sector. She has also worked as a civil servant and for the Institute of Directors, a private-sector employer lobbying organisation, as well as for policy research bodies and the media.
Born in Cheshire, Lea attended Lymm Grammar School before going to the University of York (BA) and the University of Bristol (MSc). She served almost 16 years in the British Civil Service, working in the Treasury, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Central Statistical Office and the Civil Service College. She later became a lecturer at Thames Polytechnic (now the University of Greenwich).
She then moved to the City of London, joining Mitsubishi Bank, rising to chief economist when she became a regular television and radio commentator on economic matters. She was briefly UK economist at Lehman Brothers until 1995. She was economics editor at ITN, and subsequently head of the Policy Unit at the Institute of Directors, a post she held from 1995–2003. She was famously "made redundant" by the Institute of Directors, allegedly after pressure from the Labour Government over her robustly expressed concerns about government economic policy. She was director of the Centre for Policy Studies from 2004–07 and director of Global Vision from 2007–10.
She has served on the Councils of London University and the Royal Economic Society, the National Consumer Council, the Nurses' Pay Review Body, the Office for National Statistics Advisory Committee, the Economic and Social Research Council Research Priorities Board, the Retail Prices Advisory Committee and the Institute of Economic Affairs Shadow Monetary Policy Committee. She has been a judge for several national achievement awards and was Governor of the London School of Economics. Lea is currently Economic Adviser to the Arbuthnot Banking Group, of which she has been a non-executive director since 2005.
Lea is a prolific writer on economic and business issues. She was a strong critic of Gordon Brown’s economic management, arguing that his “big state” profligacy would undermine both the public finances and the competitiveness of the economy. She is deeply concerned about Britain’s high cost and fragile energy policies, which she sees as damaging business’s competitiveness, and she believes Britain’s climate change policies will have little impact on global carbon dioxide emissions, as Britain only accounts for 1½% of the global total.
Lea is an advocate of a new relationship between Britain and the EU, proposing that EU membership should be replaced by a Swiss-style relationship with the EU. She has robustly and consistently opposed British membership of the euro on economic grounds.
- "Ruth Jane Lea". web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 5 June 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- Arbuthnot Latham & Co|Arbuthnot Banking Group website
- Ruth Lea, “The profligate Chancellor: prudent no more”, Centre for Policy Studies, March 2004.
- Ruth Lea, “Tax ‘n’ spend: no way to run an economy”, Centre for Policy Studies, July 2004.
- Ruth Lea, “The lack of reliable and affordable energy supplies could seriously damage British manufacturing”, Arbuthnot Banking Group Perspective, 20 July 2009.
- Ruth Lea, “Britain’s high energy prices: the folly of wind-power”, Arbuthnot Banking Group Perspective, 17 October 2011.
- Ruth Lea and Brian Binley MP, “Britain and Europe: a new relationship”, Global Vision, 2012.