Jeremy Hunt says post-Brexit UK can act as 'invisible chain' between global democracies
Britain can be an "invisible chain" between democracies around the world once it leaves the EU, Jeremy Hunt will say.
The Foreign Secretary will say that despite no longer having an empire, the UK has "some of the best connections of any country" with the like of America and the rest of Europe.
He will make his comments during a speech in Singapore, which he has praised for its low-tax economic model.
Addressing the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank later today, Mr Hunt will say the UK's diplomatic network means it will have a vital global role to play after Brexit.
"Most importantly, 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," he will say.
"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.
"Later this year, we will open a new mission to ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) headquarters in Jakarta, as we seek to strengthen our relationship with ASEAN after we leave the EU."
Mr Hunt will add: "Britain is already the biggest European investor in South East Asia, with ASEAN trade of nearly £37 billion, and over 4,000 British companies employing more than 50,000 people in Singapore alone.
"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."
Writing in the Mail on Sunday at the weekend, the Foreign Secretary - who campaigned for Remain but is now a strong supporter of Brexit - said Singapore-s low-tax regime had enabled it to become one of "the most dynamic economies of the world".
But Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry told The Times that Mr Hunt was wrong to hold up Singapore as an example the the UK should follow in the future.
She said: "Singapore is a country where basic freedoms of peaceful assembly, free speech and even sexuality are not respected but criminalised, and where the rule of law routinely means the brutal use of the cane.
"If Jeremy Hunt wants to go and tout for post-Brexit trade to the lowest bidders abroad, that is no surprise, but he should not besmirch our values by singing the praises of a country like Singapore when it comes to human rights."