Dubai: British expats in Dubai are a mixture of relieved, cautious but mostly delighted that the UK finally left the European Union (EU) on Friday night.
Three years and seven months after June 2016’s referendum voted 52 per cent in favour of Britain leaving the EU, 11pm on January 31 signalled the moment parliament ratified the withdrawal agreement to begin a transition period that is set to end on December 31, 2020.
Harry Tregoning, who is in real estate, said, “I was delighted to see it finally happen. For me it is great news for the UK. It is time for them to look at every trade deal and a time for their businesses to become more efficient. The UK offers and makes so many amazing products and services and now it is time to really champion them globally. It is really exciting times and finally so many businesses that were stalling on decisions and investment are able to plan with certainty.”
John Martin St. Valery, Chairman of the British Business Group in Dubai, agreed, “The GCC remains an attractive region for UK companies looking to export and as an active business group for British businesses here in Dubai we welcome new members every month who are established or new to Dubai and see the opportunities to grow their companies here. The UAE and the UK are long-term trading partners and we expect activity to increase post Brexit as UK companies are guided to look further afield internationally.”
Tony Lewis, founder and CEO of Total Communications, said, “Britain leaving the European Union is long overdue. It’s become blatantly obvious in recent times that, from the start, the British people were badly misled, and in fact betrayed, by those they elected and trusted to do what’s best for Britain.
“We were led to believe we were joining a Common Market. There was no talk of handing over power to the unelected individuals who run the EU, and have been running Britain and other member countries into the ground for years. Since the referendum, they’ve used their power, and every trick in the book, in an attempt to keep their stranglehold over Britain.
“But, as Nigel Farage said in his farewell address at the European Parliament, the British, ultimately, were too big to bully. Now it’s over, the only stain left is the need to follow EU rules for another year. By the end of that year, the overriding view, I feel, will be thank goodness we’re out, and it’s a shame we didn’t do this years ago. I honestly think this is the beginning of the end for the EU.”
Others like Stuart Porter, a partner in a fee-based financial planning firm, were a little more reserved.
“It is very early days,” he said. “From a purely economic perspective, Europe is a very important trading partner with the UK. Anything which makes trade more difficult will have an impact on the UK and European economies. While I do not subscribe to the doom-laden sound bites, I think Britain has a tough few years ahead as it seeks to find its place in the world. Hopefully many of the big issues will be resolved and we will be able to continue to operate in a similar way to pre-Brexit days.”
Meanwhile, Jenna Stirland, who works in communications, was just happy it was all done.
“I can’t believe Brexit has actually happened. It has dominated the news for months on end and now it is actually official I feel like I’ve hardly seen anything about it,” she said. “Maybe that is because I had got fed up of reading about it that I’ve blocked it out. I found it hard to follow and a lot of the reports sensationalised – especially people’s views on Facebook, so it made me want to keep out of the Brexit conversation. My friends in the UK are fed up of hearing about it and I am happy to living in Dubai removed from all of it to be honest.”
What just happened?
The UK finally left the EU at 11pm on Friday night after 43 months of political wrangling following June 2016’s referendum. December’s general election waved Boris Johnson back in as Prime Minister and with it came parliament’s ratification of the withdrawal agreement to begin a transition period that ends on December 31, 2020. Brexit has divided the country between Brexiteers, who want to leave the EU and remainers, who wanted to stay. The referendum was finely poised at 52 per cent in favour and despite the way it has polarised public opinion, most are now relieved that the country can just go forward in one certain direction following months of indecisiveness and uncertainty.