Rishi Sunak is to spearhead Government moves to exploit the opportunities of Brexit by turning the UK into the ‘Singapore of Europe’.
The Chancellor has pledged to emulate the dynamic Asian country by ripping up the red tape imposed by Brussels and ‘raising our eyes to look to the future’.
Boris Johnson has tasked Mr Sunak – who will head a new committee intended to shape the post-Brexit business environment – with driving ‘an ambitious programme of regulatory reform’ to ‘push the boundaries, boost creative thinking and inject pace at the centre of government’.
No 10 is keen to break through the gloom of the Covid pandemic by presenting an upbeat vision of the UK’s prospects – the idea that Britain, now freed from Brussels’ stranglehold, can become a Singapore-style hub that will beat France and Germany in the battle for billions of pounds of international investment.
Rishi Sunak is to spearhead Government moves to exploit the opportunities of Brexit by turning the UK into the ‘Singapore of Europe’
The Chancellor’s new body, which is called the Better Regulation Committee, will focus in particular on Mr Johnson’s beloved big-ticket infrastructure projects, dubbed ‘Boris’s bridges and buses’, which have been hampered by European rules, along with cutting-edge science and technology projects and greater help for struggling small businesses hit hard by the pandemic.
The idea is likely to be characterised by critics as an attempt to remove workers’ rights or protections for the environment – something Mr Sunak strongly denies.
A source said: ‘Now that we have secured a trade deal with the EU, it is finally time for the UK to take advantage of its hard-won, new-found freedoms.’
Singapore’s low-tax, low-regulation economy was frequently cited by Brexiteers as an example for post-EU Britain to emulate. It would be welcomed in particular by the financial services industry, which contributes more than ten per cent of the UK’s total economic output and employs over 2.3 million people.
The Chancellor has pledged to emulate the dynamic Asian country by ripping up the red tape imposed by Brussels and ‘raising our eyes to look to the future’
Britain’s trade surplus in the City’s services was £60.3 billion in 2019. The prospect has spooked the EU, with the recently concluded trade negotiations frequently stalling because Paris and Berlin feared the UK would become a low-cost competitor on the EU’s doorstep, able to undercut European companies because its standards were lower, unless it continued to follow EU rules.
Mr Sunak has assured senior City figures that Brexit will unleash a ‘Big Bang 2.0’, a reference to the boom that followed Margaret Thatcher’s deregulation of the financial services industry in the 1980s, heralding a new era of wealth creation. It comes as the UK and the EU are drawing up memorandums of understanding over which of the UK’s rules and regulations are compatible with those laid down by Brussels.
Last night, Mr Sunak said: ‘Now that we have left the European Union, we have an opportunity to do things differently and this Government is committed to making the most of the freedoms that Brexit affords us.
‘This isn’t about lowering standards but about raising our eyes to look to the future – making the most of new sectors, new thinking and new ways of working.’
SUNAK'S SOHO FARMHOUSE GAFFE
Pandemic permitting, world leaders will arrive in Cornwall this summer for the first in-person G7 meeting for nearly two years.
But if Rishi Sunak had won an argument in a recent meeting, instead of Carbis Bay – the Cornish beauty spot where the fifth series of Poldark was filmed – Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel would have been flown to Soho Farmhouse, the countryside outpost of Soho House members club.
Sources say that when the Chancellor made the suggestion to colleagues there was ‘an awkward silence’ before the discussion moved on.
The club, a favourite of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Beckhams, was not deemed to be an appropriate choice for a world summit.
Soho Farmhouse, spread over 100 acres of Oxfordshire countryside, costs about £1,400 a year per person to join.
A source said: ‘Rishi has many qualities, but he perhaps needs to work a bit on his “man of the people” credentials.’
The G7 – made up of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the USA – is expected to focus on global moves to prepare for future pandemics, including strengthening the international early-warning system for emerging health threats.