does Brexit pave the way for a new UK partnership with the Middle East?

A former EU coverage adviser to 2 British Prime Ministers presents his views on the Brexit course of.

does Brexit pave the way for a new UK partnership with the Middle East?
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Brexit is about to develop into a actuality. Since Boris Johnson received a sweeping mandate on the UK normal election, Parliament – deadlocked for over a 12 months over leaving the European Union – handed the mandatory laws in simply three days. The UK will go away the EU on 31 January.

The top of the UK’s 46-year membership of the regional bloc signifies that Britain is searching for new sources of commerce, affect and alliances. The Center East, whose trendy historical past is so entwined with Britain’s, will likely be a pure focus for Boris Johnson and his new authorities.

Even earlier than Brexit formally occurs, we see how key questions in regards to the UK’s relationship with the area are being examined within the Iran disaster. This maybe provides us some clues to the UK’s future positioning; rhetorical assist for the US, whereas sticking to the substance of the EU coverage. However the UK will come below growing strain from Washington to assist US positions extra actively. Till the UK’s future commerce decisions are settled – and particularly till an EU and maybe a US commerce deal are signed – British Ministers and officers will spend numerous diplomatic ingenuity and energy making an attempt to postpone the selection.

The truth is, the UK has been re-positioning itself with Arab companions for the reason that Brexit referendum in 2016. Britain opposed the EU’s itemizing of Saudi Arabia as a risk due to alleged lax controls on terrorism financing and cash laundering. The UK invested diplomatic effort in making an attempt to steer Germany to not finish navy assist to the dominion. The UK has stepped up its commerce diplomacy within the area, together with visits by then-Prime Minister Theresa Could.

We will count on that focus to proceed. The UK will need and must deepen its industrial relationships within the Gulf and the broader area, particularly in these nations the place it has sturdy cultural and historic ties. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, because the richest nations within the area, will likely be explicit priorities, and we are able to count on to see the UK search to barter bilateral commerce offers there. This presents alternatives for the flourishing regional commerce with the UK.

Take well being, for instance. UK Ministers will likely be main an enormous commerce delegation to the Arab Well being discussion board in Dubai, targeted on promoting British corporations’ experience to satisfy the rising Center East demand for high quality healthcare, pushed by challenges equivalent to growing older populations, rising life expectancy and scientific workforce shortages.

UK MedTech corporations have been steadily rising their footprint within the Center East and the most recent figures from UK Authorities present there have been almost $250million of UK well being exports and 19 new joint initiatives within the Center East in 2018 and this determine is ready to develop. After Brexit, the area will likely be a key marketplace for UK corporations looking for to take care of their place as world-class leaders in healthcare, medical gadgets and digital applied sciences.

This contemporary industrial agenda, quite than oil – the UK imports most of its oil from Norway and Nigeria – is the place the post-Brexit UK pursuits within the area lie.

What proof ought to we search for of British dedication to the area? We should always count on the UK to proceed to assist humanitarian motion; the UK has been one of many foremost funders of Syrian refugee assist. Political and diplomatic engagement may also be an essential take a look at of the dedication to ‘World Britain’; continued engagement on the Center East peace course of, for instance, or absolutely implementing the Stockholm settlement on Yemen.

The UK will wish to strengthen bilateral cooperation in areas like defence, even within the face of political criticism at dwelling; Britain’s defence and diplomatic belongings are central to its declare to a world position. We should always begin to see proof of this dedication within the UK Spending Evaluation later this 12 months; the UK Defence Secretary is already saying that the UK must be extra unbiased of the US militarily.

Lengthy-term British allies within the area may gain advantage from the UK’s essentially world focus after Brexit. The UK desires commerce offers, and must chart a course between the EU and US. That brings alternatives – industrial, strategic and political for the area. Understanding how the UK will redefine its relationships with the EU and the US via commerce talks, and the vital resolution factors the place the strategic decisions will likely be made, is essential for the governments and companies of the area to affect and revenue from the Brexit revolution.

Paul McGrade, is a former EU coverage adviser to 2 British Prime Ministers and now Senior Counsel at Lexington Communications, one of many UK’s main strategic consultancies. An EU lawyer and professional on UK and European commerce coverage. Paul advises world companies and organisations on commerce and post-Brexit regulation. For extra info please go to


Paul McGrade and consultants from Lexington Communications will likely be internet hosting a presentation and Q&A session, Making successful of Brexit: Alternatives for UK MedTech, from 9:15am - 10:00am on Tuesday 28 January, within the ABHI pavilion at Arab Well being 2020 in Dubai.