Brexit Britain probably won’t be a Singapore-on-Thames

by Rashmee

Posted on December 11, 2019

The UK general election is, by some accounts, a referendum on leaving the EU and I’ve been thinking a lot about Britain as a Singapore-on-Thames.

The idea has been floating around for a while, with ardent Breiteers suggesting that it’s Europe that has held back Britain’s buccaneering boldness.

Unsurprisingly, even Anglophile countries — Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden — have been unnerved by talk of a Singapore-on-Thames, built on the premise that watering down Euro-regulations would unleash competitive animal spirits. Not too long ago, a European Brexit negotiator was quoted to say: “The UK is too big and too close to the continent, it could be too successful”.

Could it?

Consider a letter recently published in the FT letter. It’s by Tony Mayer, in Haydon Wick, Wiltshire, in the UK.

“…Singapore’s success reflects its history and geography: a small island without a geographical hinterland — so, as the late Lee Kwan Yew said, “we have to have a global hinterland”- coupled with an advantageous position astride trade routes. Its size and location give it an agility that larger countries do not enjoy. This is enhanced by a technocratic but highly interventionist government — anathema to the Tory right — which has a long-term vision coupled with a rapidity of execution…”

Quite so.

Is government interventionism going to rule in the Brexit era? Will Boris Johnson and the Conservatives — traditionally a party of small government — really take Lee Kwan Yew as role model?

It’s one of the many inchoate aspects of the way Brexit has been sold.

Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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