Only one in three Gulf-based Britons plan to return to the UK

Nearly three-quarters are concerned about the country's decision to exit the European Union, new survey says

A British flag flutters during the March to Leave demonstration in Parliament square in London, Britain March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
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Only one in three Arabian Gulf-based British expatriates plan to return to the UK and nearly three-quarters are “somewhat concerned” or “very concerned” about Brexit, according to a new survey from financial advisory firm Hoxton Capital Management.

The online survey of 1,126 Britons found that 41 per cent moved to the GCC for an improved lifestyle, followed by a higher or tax-free salary for 27 per cent of those polled. One in 10 respondents said they relocated because they “wanted an adventure” and 9 per cent made the move to join family.

“While improving financial prospects remains a key reason in British expats’ decision to move, we believe that there has been a noticeable increase in people moving to the region for an improved lifestyle,” said Chris Ball, partner at Hoxton Capital Management, which has offices in Abu Dhabi and Watford, southern England.

The uncertainty surrounding Brexit has gripped the UK ever since a majority of the population voted to leave the European Union in a referendum three years ago. Several deadlines to leave the EU have passed without a deal to do so and Prime Minister Theresa May resigned earlier this month, in part over the delay. The British economy has suffered as a result, with the pound falling to record lows.

Nearly half of the Hoxton Capital Management survey participants said they do not plan to return to the UK and around a quarter said they were not sure.

“We believe that the current social and economic uncertainty facing the UK - partially due to Brexit - is discouraging some Brits based in GCC states from returning home,” Mr Ball said.

Becoming an expatriate largely changed the British respondents’ opinion of their home country - mainly for the worst, according to the study, which took place in April.

A quarter of those polled said it altered their views “completely” for the worst and 28 per cent “slightly” for the worst. Only 6 per cent said it changed their perspective “completely” for the better and 18 per cent “slightly” for the better. The remaining 23 per cent said their feelings about the UK remain unchanged.

The UK economy is a concern with close to half feeling “not at all positively” about it and only 4 per cent feeling “very positively”. However, 33 per cent felt “somewhat positively” about it.

More than half said they see the UK as a good opportunity for property investment.

“From an investment perspective, a number of UK expats are concerned about economic stagnation in Britain and this is playing its part in more individuals seeking advice from advisers like ourselves on how to invest most efficiently,” Mr Ball said.