On new years eve at 11pm I toasted the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The transition period had ended. Finally after all those years of working to campaign to get Brexit done the country was free to run it’s own economy as a sovereign nation. I was particularly keen to explore the notion of Britain to build itself like an economically free country like the Tiger Nations of the South China Sea. These nations which include Singapore are a model for which Britain could follow to advance in science, technology, trade, services and manufacturing.
At the last moment on 24th December the Conservative government secured a trade deal at the 11th hour to allow for a continuation of the trade with the EU. I saw the details of it for myself and it did have a lot of good attributes, even though I was inclined to support Britain leaving on World Trade Organisation terms allowing it to make a trade deal from scratch. However because of the pandemic there was a vast lack of economic activity that hampered our fresh start. So it was best for both us and the EU to leave on a temporary trade deal that can be amended into the future. There is some progress that can be made in the coming years to build Britain up and reset our economy and develop the infrastructure that can remedy the situation. We need to get out of this stagnation to make it as the sovereign entity that Britain ought to be.
The idea that I as a Brexiteer have for Britain is to be a Singapore of Europe. Some commentators appraising Brexit Britain have said that London can be like ‘Singapore on Thames’. Singapore has a lot of common objectives and economic enfranchisement for bright ideas as part of their aspirations to Britain. Both of them are island nations, they have smart cities that are sustainable and to high standards of living, they have thriving service sectors, and they have great national characteristics about their communities and identity.
Why is Singapore a model country of an island nation that Britain should aspire to be like? Well Singapore is reviled the world over for a number of good qualities that make it a powerful nation. This island nation was once a British colony and gained independence from Britain in 1965. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew made Singapore one of the richest island nations in the world with ‘creative legislation’. He passed several laws covering economic development, housing development and technological advancements. The government encourages Singaporean businesses and industries to be put up using government grants and personal loans that are licensed by the law to regulate business interests and modes of repayment. It’s not done with easy money and the people have to stick to a criteria that is reasonable and achievable to make that enterprise work.
Housing development is also a major issue. Singapore once had the biggest slum dwelling citizens in the world with so many poor people living in them. The housing development board made it a priority to move them out in a slow but gradual way that they now all live in improved conditions and homes. Because of Singapore’s small land area most of them live in tower blocks, but not to the style of council properties in Britain where they resemble concrete stone pillars. These homes are also reflected in the high tech nature of Singapore’s embrace of science to improve society. In fact Singapore’s embrace on technology is so ingrained into their cities that they have the most smartest cities on Earth.
This makes Singapore the most active place to do business and attract tourism. Singapore doesn’t have any natural resources to sell like Britain, instead it’s prime location in Southeast Asia is what attracts investors. Singapore is placed in a remarkable location to make it a hub of international trade. You can travel to Singapore and find yourself in the crossroads of the main trade and shipping routes of the world. This makes it one of the most easiest places in the world to do business. This is why it’s economy is largely built on services and assembly plants for manufacturing. It’s this structure that contributes to it’s success as a very rich island nation.
As if that isn’t enough Singapore also proudly boasts about being the most cleanest government in the world. Anti-corruption is at the heart of it’s political structure and Lee Kuan Yew has built it into the fabric of Singapore’s financial and economic policies and his foresight and wisdom is attributed to Singapore’s success. It’s per capita income is so strong that it surpasses that of European and other Asian countries. It is quite expensive to live there though and there are some laws that are not favourable to the people but they live very happy lives. I admire Singapore for being a powerful nation that embraces science and technology to advance the quality of life for it’s citizens.
It’s all these features and attributes that Singapore has in common with Britain that make the potential for us to thrive to an excellent standard of living. I too intend to get in on the act in some way and many others are trying to do their bit as well. Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen is currently in the process of getting the Tees Valley to be developed into a Special Economic Area that includes building a massive freeport. This will transform the area into a world port that will offload goods and make trading negotiations with tax exemptions that will increase the UK economy by up to £2 billion. This will be a great help to the shipping industry because now that we are free from the EU the congested traffic across the channel will be eased and we won’t be limited to European only trade routes.
This will be good news for me as Londoner because that way the Southeast won’t be so overcrowded and now British businesses will have the opportunities to spread out across the country. There is also plans to redevelop the railway network and start a green industrial revolution with advances in hydrogen power. While private enterprise has aspirations to meet and excel and to build for themselves, the government also intends to create an even playing field. There is going to be a redistribution of regional powers and internal market legislation put in place so that the economy is not so dependent of London acting like a city state directing the rest of the UK.
This merry island of Great Britain will achieve great things in the next decade and until then I will be getting on with the job of making something for myself in it.