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What Asia can learn from Brexit

Three perils to avoid in Britain's messy EU divorce

| Southeast Asia

Viewed from Asia, Brexit invites puzzlement bordering on incomprehension. Britain's colonial heritage left a mixed legacy in this part of the world, but until recently the country was still admired for its competent government and economic prowess. Little of that will survive next month's Brexit deadline, even if Prime Minister Theresa May does manage to avoid the catastrophe of "no deal" -- leaving the EU without an agreement governing Britain's departure or its future relations with the bloc.

Brexit provides obvious warnings beyond the spectacle of a once-respected power unable to govern itself. The folly of allowing referendums is one, an observation made privately by nonplused Singaporean diplomats in the aftermath of the original vote. For more doctrinaire critics of the west, Brexit also serves to illustrates the weakness of liberal systems of government. If Britain does indeed crash out on March 29 without a deal, those critics will have a point.

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