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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Britons in UAE watch Brexit chaos from afar and unsure what is to follow

Workers in the UAE are planning for more than just sending extra cash home as sterling slumps

Britons in Dubai are unsure what to make of the Brexit chaos back home. Getty Images
Britons in Dubai are unsure what to make of the Brexit chaos back home. Getty Images

It may be the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning – the truth is British workers living abroad are not quite sure what to make of the latest developments of the long running Brexit saga.

As British Prime Minister Theresa May clings on to power by her fingertips, those she entrusted to help steer the government through the choppy waters of Brexit negotiations turn against her.

And the bloodshed seen in the Cabinet in recent days may resemble the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones rather than a pivotal moment in UK history.

But with much doubt remaining over how a final deal over Britain’s exit from the European Union may look, workers in the UAE are already planning for the sweeping changes that lie ahead.

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Read more:

Theresa May under pressure as she defends Brexit deal

Political rifts in divided Britain are only set to deepen

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James Lear, who works in Dubai International Financial Centre, is marking a decade living in the UAE in 2018.

Although he has no plans to move back home just yet, he said an independent Britain free from Europe could hold plenty of opportunity.

“A proper Brexit deal would make going home more likely for many British workers living abroad,” he said.

“Britain could become a vibrant ‘Singapore’ of Europe, and that would be very interesting for a variety of industries.

“Looking in from afar, it is easy to see how Britain could develop into a nation with a world view, beyond the constraints of Europe and its overblown bureaucracy – and that would certainly appeal to some who are currently living abroad.

“The world of the 21st century will not be defined by treaties made in the 1990s.”

“This is an opportunity for Britain to be one of the first ‘old money’ countries to make a real statement of intent for the 21st century," Mr Lear said.

“This is not about being a little England, or a little Europe, but about building a new global relationship.”

A no-confidence vote in Theresa May’s ability to lead Britain into sit down talks on a final Brexit deal with Europe, could see her ousted from her position as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party.

The Machiavellian games will continue behind the scenes.

As her rivals for power jostle for position, there could yet be more cabinet resignations before November 25, the date when 27 EU leaders will officially endorse any deal.

That has already impacted financial markets, with sterling slumping against the dollar to its lowest point since July.

Where Britons working overseas may be looking to cash-in by increasing their remittance, some are holding off on sending cash home.

The pound against the dirham. Courtesy XE
The pound against the dirham. Courtesy XE

In what has become a game of poker on the global financial markets, many are expecting the value of the pound to fall further than its current value of about 78 pence on the dollar.

Chris Spong, a British sales director working in the construction industry in Dubai is holding off sending savings back to the UK for now.

“I’ve been in the UAE for eight years, and watching the political developments unfold back home is scary,” he said.

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Pound plunge was mere prelude to what may happen with no deal

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“No deal is better than a bad deal, but the scaremongering from other politicians about what that may incur has undermined the Prime Minister.

“It has allowed the EU to call her bluff and the current deal looks a disaster, although no one really knows how it will play out.

“I fear for Britain if this deal is accepted, and it can only be a stepping stone to further disruption later on once the reality of what this all means really kicks in.

“I won’t be sending my money home until a pound is worth at least Dh4.4.”