SINGAPORE, Jun 24 – British citizens living in Singapore watched in disbelief as the results of the Brexit referendum unfolded. Expatriates who spoke to The Straits Times were largely in support of the Remain camp, and said they felt disappointed and shocked by the fact that more than half of their fellow countrymen had chosen to leave the European Union.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” said advertising executive John Perella,41, who said the result was “a huge step backwards for humanity”, as the EU was created with the main aim of uniting a divided, post-war continent. “My greatest concern now is what Britain has done to our reputation. The key issue was immigration… the vote to leave is essentially a vote to stop immigration. I’m concerned that the rest of the world is going to think we are bunch of bigots and racists.”
Lawyer Sean Anderson, a “proud European” in his mid-40s, added: “I’m gutted. Absolutely shocked. This is unbelievable. “I think it’s happened because people are feeling poorer after the financial crisis. And they’ve felt too unheard for a long time, it’s a protest vote against the powers that govern.”
Courts Asia chief executive Terry O’Connor had thrown his weight behind the Remain camp, and said he, too, was disappointed by the poll’s result. Remaining in the EU “gives us the necessary clout and scale in the world in terms of access to free trade agreements, which will have to be re-negotiated and would take years, should we leave”, he noted.
“In the meantime, there’s a lot of market uncertainty – the pound has already taken a whack in the last few hours and gold is soaring. The market fallout that would result is unfortunate when the world is still reeling from the fallout of the Global Financial Crisis. This self-inflicted turmoil is the last thing the world needs now – raw emotion is winning out over economic sense.”
However, there was still one Briton maintaining his stiff upper lip. Mr John Whitaker, 38, who works in the oil and gas industry in Singapore, said he feels fine about Brexit. “I think in the short term, the economy will suffer, but as they say, the night is darkest before dawn. Things will be fine once the dust settles. The key argument was immigration, and Europe has been sending far too many people to Britain.”