Unclear path worries British expats in Singapore after Brexit deal rejected

Pro-Brexit demonstrators near the Houses of Parliament in London on Tuesday. Members of the British expat community in Singapore expressed concern over the uncertain path ahead for their country after British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal
Pro-Brexit demonstrators near the Houses of Parliament in London on Tuesday. Members of the British expat community in Singapore expressed concern over the uncertain path ahead for their country after British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal was shot down in Parliament.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

They live far from their home country, but members of the British expat community in Singapore are following the Brexit story with concern.

This worry only deepened yesterday after British Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for the country to exit the European Union was shot down in Parliament. This leaves the path ahead unclear, several of them told The Straits Times.

"I find it all very embarrassing... I hope it (Brexit) doesn't go ahead as my opinion is that it feels like a step backwards," said Mr James Hughes, 32, an operations lead in an advertising and technology company.

"I think there is a massive lack of trust and faith in our current government, and I am interested to see where they will go from here and if they can in fact restore confidence in the country."

Mr Andrew Thomas, 55, regional chief executive of Eagle's Flight, a multinational training and development company, mused on what might have been.

"Having lived outside of the UK for years, I am very much a spectator. But I am left wondering, given what people know about the EU and the consequences for Brexit now, whether they would vote the same way," he said. "If there was a second referendum today, people would be much more informed about what they are voting for."

He mentioned that a Brexit on Mrs May's current terms would restrict freedom of movement. "The British passport used to give me access to 16, 20 markets that I could work in or live in every year - and made me part of, as a citizen of the EU, a community of 300 million people. With Brexit - it doesn't."

 
 

Executives working in UK-based banking and finance firms are feeling anxious, too. "I think that leaving the EU will not make much sense for the British economy, especially on these terms," said Mr Benjamin Farleigh, a banker in his late 20s who has lived in Singapore for two years.

"It will also cause massive ripples across the market, and I don't see any scenario where leaving the EU turns out well for the UK."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2019, with the headline 'Unclear path worries British expats in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe