TL;DR – We have come a long way.
I’ve got to admit. I was shocked that the British voted in favour of Brexit. I thought that Britain won’t do well if it’s isolated from the European Union. Its own domestic market isn’t exactly small, but its own domestic market certainly isn’t as big as the EU. How can Britain make it alone?
But why not? It’s not as if it hasn’t been done before. In the last century, there was a country which managed to split from a far larger market, and prospered despite not having a pathetically small domestic market of its own. Worse, that country was economically and politically isolated by its neighbours, who, by the way, weren’t exactly friendly to that country.
That country is, of course, Singapore. The year was 1965. We know the history. We had a messy split from Malaysia. Fast forward to 2017. Our former colonial masters are now facing a messy split from the EU. What’s next for them after the split? There is much uncertainty in Britain. Some are afraid. Some are hopeful.
Amongst those who are hopeful is Owen Paterson, an MP who used to be Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. He believes that breaking away from EU would allow Britain to adopt a completely different economic model that would enable Britain to “break away from the slow-moving European caravan”.
But in order to do that, Mr Paterson thinks that Britain should learn from Singapore. He wrote:
“For if we are to thrive, our post-Brexit model should exactly be Singapore, a tiny country devoid of natural resources but with a booming economy and an average life expectancy of 85. In 1980, Britons were 20 per cent richer than Singaporeans on average; today they are twice as rich as us.”
Mr Paterson is advocating for Britain to “take a leaf out of the book of tiger economies like Singapore and adopt the low-tax, low-spend, low-regulation policies that have produced living standards well in excess of anything achieved in Britain or the rest of the EU”.
It’s a timely reminder that while Singapore certainly has various areas to improve, many are also looking at our development and exploring what could be learnt. That’s because we have a system that, by and large, works.
And it makes us feel just a little bit proud of what we have achieved.