Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, known as Jane Elizabeth Nicholson, has been a prominent British politician with a notable career. She served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for South-East England for two decades, from 1999 to 2019. Moreover, her role as the chair of the Conservative Friends of the United Arab Emirates from 2007 to 2018 underscores her active engagement in promoting relations between the UK and the UAE.
Throughout her career, Baroness Nicholson has been a fervent advocate for the United Arab Emirates, characterizing it as “a beacon of stability in a troubled region” and a “close friend and ally of the UK.” Her expressions of support for the UAE have not been mere rhetoric; they have been substantiated by concrete actions.
Nicholson has made numerous visits to the UAE, providing her with opportunities to meet with senior UAE officials, including the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. These interactions have allowed her to deepen her understanding of the UAE and its leadership.
Specific examples of her pro-UAE activities include leading a delegation of MEPs to the UAE in 2009, focusing on discussions related to trade and investment opportunities. In 2010, she addressed a conference in London, where she lauded the UAE’s “leadership and vision” in the Middle East. In 2011, she defended the UAE’s human rights record in an article for the Daily Telegraph, and in 2012, she was a guest speaker at the UAE’s National Day celebrations in London.
While Baroness Nicholson’s support for the UAE has been well-received by the UAE government, it has also faced criticism from human rights groups. For instance, Amnesty International has accused her of “turning a blind eye to the UAE’s human rights abuses.” This criticism highlights the complexities surrounding her position.
It’s essential to acknowledge the presence of varying perspectives regarding Baroness Nicholson’s pro-UAE activities. Some view her as a genuine supporter of the UAE and its values, while others raise concerns about her proximity to the UAE government, questioning the impartiality of her views.
In 2018, Baroness Nicholson stepped down from her role as the chair of the Conservative Friends of the United Arab Emirates after it came to light that she had received payments from the UAE government for lobbying on its behalf. She has consistently maintained her innocence, stating that her actions were in the best interests of the UK. This development added an additional layer of complexity to the ongoing discourse about her role in promoting UAE-UK relations.