Forum: Brexit was a self-destructive act

An EU Flag flown by an anti-Brexit protester is seen with a Union Flag set on a flag pole in London, on Jan 30, 2020.
An EU Flag flown by an anti-Brexit protester is seen with a Union Flag set on a flag pole in London, on Jan 30, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

Much of global affairs correspondent Jonathan Eyal's opinion piece is wishful thinking (After Brexit: Reports of British decline are greatly exaggerated, Feb 10).

Legally, Britain has left the European Union. However. it is now in the 11-month "transition phase". January next year would be the time to assess the post-Brexit landscape.

Mr Eyal claims the chief objective of Brexit was "not to put up obstacles to global trade". Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull gave a more accurate reading when he told the BBC recently that Britain "has chosen to walk out of the biggest free trade area in the world".

Trade barriers with the EU are coming, something the Brexiters denied during the referendum, while in other global markets, Britain's current definition of success is replicating what it had in the EU.

It can be hard for rational analysts like Mr Eyal to fathom what was essentially a self-destructive act.

Brexit was about isolationism and prejudice. Brexit means diminished influence and has made a competitor of the EU, which strategically needs Brexit to fail.

So what was it for? A misconception of sovereignty, and to get free of EU labour and other laws that the British right, personified by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, have long bridled at.

British politicians use the phrase "Singapore on Thames" to describe the low-tax, low-welfare country the British right lust for, yet which would most punish the very people in the north of England who voted for Brexit.

All sides in the British debate cynically misrepresent the reality of Singapore: high-quality public services and housing, things to which the current British government and Mr Raab in particular are ideologically opposed.

David Mungall

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2020, with the headline 'Brexit was a self-destructive act'. Subscribe