Brexit

Jeremy Hunt visits Singapore after hailing example for post-Brexit Britain

British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt
By David Hughes, Press Association Chief Political Correspondent

Jeremy Hunt is visiting Singapore just days after hailing the Asian economy as a possible example for post-Brexit Britain to follow.

On a three-day visit to Asia the British foreign secretary will claim that the UK's history and geography gives it the chance to be an "invisible chain" linking democracies across the world.

Despite the Brexit process, Mr Hunt will highlight the "friendship" with Europe as one of the UK's key international advantages.

In a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, Mr Hunt said: "In a world where it is rarely possible for one country to achieve its ambitions alone, we have some of the best connections of any country – whether through the Commonwealth, our alliance with the United States and our friendship with our neighbours in Europe.

"Those connections mean that, in this part of the world, Britain is amongst only a handful of European countries with an embassy or high commission in every member of the Association of South-East Asian nations (Asean)."

The UK is set to open a new mission to the Asean headquarters in Jakarta this year.

"Those connections are why Britain's post-Brexit role should be to act as an invisible chain linking together the democracies of the world, those countries which share our values and support our belief in free trade, the rule of law and open societies," Mr Hunt said.

Writing in a British newspaper at the weekend, Mr Hunt suggested the UK should follow the example of low-tax Singapore as it forges a new position in the world after Brexit.

Singapore has long been touted as a model for the UK after EU withdrawal by fervent Brexiteers such as former minister Owen Paterson, who last year wrote that Britain should adopt its "low-tax, low-spend, low-regulation" policies.

Mr Hunt said Singapore had transformed itself from a "tiny territory devoid of natural resources into the world's eighth richest country".

"While the circumstances of Britain's departure from the EU are different, there could be few better instructions for us as we make our post-Brexit future."

Mr Hunt's visit to Singapore will see the announcement of a new UK-Singapore strategic partnership, strengthening collaboration in areas including the digital economy, security and education.

As part of the three-day visit to Asia the foreign secretary will also travel to Malaysia.

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