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12 June 2019

The Guardian: Brexit ‘shambles’ has ruined UK reputation, says senior diplomat

Scott Wightman, Britain’s outgoing senior diplomat in Singapore, has said Britain is now seen worldwide as a country beset by division, obsessed with ideology and careless of truth.

In a valedictory note, he compared Brexit to the fall of Singapore in 1942 and said major investors expect future investment in Europe to be directed more towards Germany and France.

The remarks, first reported by Politico, came as the high commissioner left his post to take up a job in his native Scotland.

Ironically, many Brexiter MPs have claimed the UK can become a free-market haven like Singapore once it is freed from the regulations associated with the European single market.

Wightman said that as a result of Brexit, the nation that Singaporeans “admired for stability, common sense, tolerance and realism grounded in fact, they see beset by division, obsessed with ideology, careless of the truth … I fear many around the world share their view.”

Wightman has been one of the UK’s most senior diplomats in Asia, first as Asia-Pacific director in the Foreign Office and then as the UK ambassador in Seoul, South Korea. He has been high commissioner in Singapore since 2015.

At his farewell speech marking the Queen’s birthday, Wightman made little reference to his true views apart from highlighting the considerable political uncertainty in the UK and his personal hope that the country would find the quality of leadership required.

In his note Wightman said: “Like posts across the network and departments in the UK, we’re performing minor miracles for UK interests faced with the utter political shambles of Brexit,” he said. Singaporean ministers are “mystified as to how our political leaders allowed things to get to this pass”.

He described the Singapore-UK Partnership for the Future, an initiative to improve ties that was launched by the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in January, as being used in the “classic manner of the illusionist”. [...]

Full article on The Guardian

© The Guardian

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