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The UK can “learn lessons” from Singapore but is not looking to follow its economic model after Brexit, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.
Mr Hunt, who is on a visit to the Asian city-state, said Singapore’s success was grounded in long-term investment in education and infrastructure.
But he said the UK would not emulate its low tax and low regulation climate, as hoped for by some Brexiteers.
MPs will vote on Theresa May’s EU withdrawal deal in two weeks’ time.
The UK is scheduled to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019.
But it is not clear what will happen if Parliament rejects the withdrawal terms and framework of future relations, amid continuing opposition to the package among many Conservative MPs.
Speaking in Singapore, Mr Hunt warned of “devastating social consequences” if the UK did not leave the EU in three months’ time, suggesting it would send a message the government was not listening to the people.
He said the prime minister was still talking to her fellow European leaders about changes to ensure the UK was not “trapped” indefinitely in a customs union with the EU.
“I think she (Theresa May) will find a way to get this deal through Parliament and think that is what the British people would want,” he said.
‘Dynamism and vitality’
In a speech to business leaders, Mr Hunt said the UK had to carve out a new role for itself outside the EU and could not rely “on sentiment to stay relevant” in the 21st Century.
Some Brexiteers have said the UK should aspire to become the “Singapore of the North” – copying its high-tech economy, with low levels of taxation and corporate regulation to attract foreign investment.
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