Scots in UAE divided on referendum

Expats react to Sturgeon’s decision to call for another independence referendum

Dubai: Scottish residents in the UAE are as divided as people back home in Scotland over First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to call for another independence referendum.

Scotland voted against independence in September 2014 by a margin of 55 to 45 per cent but Sturgeon, leader of Scotland’s governing Scottish National Party (SNP), said the move was necessary to protect Scottish interests in the aftermath of the UK voting to leave the European Union (EU).

Some 62 per cent of Scots voted to remain in the EU in the ‘Brexit’ vote last summer.

Susan Parker (left), a marketing and communications director from Falkirk who has lived in Dubai for more than nine years, said: “I was very much for independence during the 2014 vote.

“Given the increasing lack of control and governance Scotland has over its own future, particularly now the UK has chosen to leave the EU, I continue to stay firmly in the ‘Yes’ camp.

“There is little sign that the British government will move away from Conservative rule anytime in the near future, and Scotland has quite clearly shown that it doesn’t support this — with one Conservative MP in Scotland and the country overwhelmingly voting to remain in the EU.”

Economic uncertainty was the major factor Danny Quinn (left), a Dubai-based senior partner at a finance firm, sided with ‘No’ in the 2014 referendum, and he said that remained a huge concern.

“There’s no economic case,” he said, insisting Scotland could not afford to see the subsidies it receives from Westminster disappear in the event of independence. “We’d pay more money and get less back.”

Saltcoats native Quinn said he wasn’t in favour of Brexit but had warmed to the idea and it could provide the basis for good British trade deals, whereas Scotland would struggle on its own.

Quinn also expressed concerns about losing his British passport for a Scottish one. “A British passport goes a long way,” he said.

Rob Scott (left), however, a sales account manager who has been in Dubai 18 years, disagreed with Quinn, saying Scotland has “an abundance of resources and riches” and had been “tricked” by fearmongering from the ‘No’ campaign in 2014.

The Glaswegian said UK Prime Minister Theresa May had left Sturgeon no choice by refusing to budge on a ‘Hard-Brexit’.

“We didn’t vote for her,” he said of May, who took UK leadership after David Cameron stepped down.

Indeed, May “taking Scotland for a ride” even has 2014 ‘No’ supporter James Fullerton (left) leaning towards ‘Yes’ this time — although perhaps indicative of how tight a 2018/19 referendum might be, the Dubai-based environmental industry director from Alloa admitted he’s “sitting on the fence”.

There might be one thing that all Scottish expats are agreed on, however. The last referendum in 2014 only saw those living in Scotland allowed to participate, and Lindsay Johnston, a staunch ‘No’-supporting PR director from Aberdeen who has been in Dubai a decade, insisted: “All Scottish people, regardless of whether they live there, should be allowed to vote.”