Muscat: Brexit’s finally happening with the British government’s announcement that it will be invoking Article 50, and Britons in Oman are only hoping for the best going forward.
Nearly nine months after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU), Article 50, which is a provision in the EU’s treaty that allows a member state to leave, will be invoked and will trigger talks on the country’s exit from the EU on March 29.
Maggie Jeans, an OBE (Order of the British Empire) recipient, living in Oman for 26 years thinks there is still uncertainty surrounding the situation. “I wanted to remain, as most people living overseas and I never thought that Brexit would happen. It’s surrounded by total uncertainty; I watched the coverage on the television and in the newspaper, and it seems to me nobody has any idea what’s going to happen. All sorts of figures are out and about, and no one has a definitive answer. I think we just have to watch the space and I hope the negotiations go well.”
Graham Leslie, a British resident in Oman, who works in the hospitality sector, said, “I think Brexit was largely based on this new trend that we are experiencing in Europe; it panders to a section of society that is concerned about losing its identity that’s wrapped up in immigration and obviously concerns of security, etc.”
“I think for a considerable number of people, which is almost half of the population, it left them with some great concern, as obviously the EU is an enormous commercial market and also a manpower market and immigration and human resources are critical moving forward for any nation.”
Leslie thinks that although it’s unfortunate that Brexit’s happening, Britain needs to now make the best of the situation looking forward. “So if it’s being able to get its focus together in the right way with politicians and with the right enabling conditions, it could work out well in time. God forbid if the EU does start to break up, then the country that will be in the best position is the one that is probably the first out rather than the one last out.”
Unless all member countries of the EU agree to negotiate, there is a two-year period for Britain’s withdrawal. If no agreement is reached, Britain gets no trade deal, that could mean British companies could face tariffs and customs check when they trade in Europe. Britain is now fighting for a good trade deal and winning back control of its immigration policy.
Eva Stanley Jones, a PR consultant and a resident of Oman is not happy with what’s happening, but hopes for a positive future. “I think we should have stayed with the EU, as we were safer and stronger being part of a union with Europe. I think that England, especially London being such a cosmopolitan place with a multitude of nationalities, having Brexit come into affect could have some negative impact on trade between some of our neighbours.”
“I hope that in spite of Brexit, business and normal relations, in terms of people living and visiting the United Kingdom, will still be strong and people who wanted to remain in the EU will pull together and make the country an accessible place so that people can still continue the same way before we left the EU.”
Alan Hunter, another British expat in Oman had voted to remain in the EU as well.
“I think the impact of Brexit will be to initiate the flight of the financial industry (currently the European centre) from London to Frankfurt, Dublin and Paris. (There will be an unseemly competition for the business between these actors). The head line inflation rate will progressively increase in the U.K. now.”
“Then there is the impact on the U.K.’s political integrity: Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. Indy 2 is the opening gambit. I voted, with a heavy heart, to remain in the EU to maximise my adult children’s job prospects and to reduce the risk of another independence referendum. I don’t like the EU and agree with (Nigel) Farage there are a bunch of parasites in the EU
Although most people living overseas may have wanted to stay, there are others who thought otherwise.
"We voted out, when it was done in the 70s, it was done for pure economic reasons and there were nine countries that joined and since then it has grown and I don’t think it actually does what it was set up to do. So I think for our economy and our trading in the future, its better that we leave," said Caroline Nelson, a British expat living in Oman.
“EU is too big of an organisation and I don’t think its providing the U.K. with the best economic rules and regulations, I think it limiting our trade around the world. Moving forward, it will be very wobbly for a change in the short time, I am not sure they will get it right straightaway, but I do think in the long term for my grandchildren it will be a better option.”
Before the final exit though, Britain needs to pay what it owes for the EU’s spending commitments and pension payments, and according to some estimates, the total bill could reach 60 billion Euros.