Economic Affairs

The illusion of Singapore on the Thames: Brexiters can't cherry-pick from Republic's model

Brexiters cannot cherry-pick from the Singapore model to keep the British economy thriving.

Two hundred years after Stamford Raffles arrived in Singapore and transformed it into a free port, we hear about "Singapore on the Thames". Google the phrase, and you get more than 13 million results.

It started as a rhetorical battle cry by Brexiter ultras who believe that leaving the European Union will somehow deliver the United Kingdom into some kind of unregulated, free-trading, low-tax economic paradise, for which Singapore is inaccurately designated as the role model.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2019, with the headline 'The illusion of S'pore on the Thames'. Subscribe