UK’s Indian-origin lawmakers launch anti-Brexit campaign

Stressing that the United Kingdom was “stronger, safer and better off as a member of the EU”, Indian-origin members of parliament in the UK have launched a new cross-party group to campaign for Britain to remain a member of the European Union (EU) in the June 23 referendum. The “British Indians for IN” campaign was launched with the backing of 15 British-Indian MPs including Keith Vaz, Shailesh Vara, Lord Karan Bilimoria, Virendra Sharma, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Lord Navnit Dholakia and Seema Malhotra among others. The group claims that it has the backing of an overwhelming majority of parliamentarians of Indian origin.

“We are British parliamentarians of Indian origin, and whilst we represent different political views, on a whole range of matters, we believe that membership of the EU is an issue which transcends party politics. … We are united in our belief that the UK is stronger, safer and better off as a member of the EU. Contrary to the argument made by some that Britain needs to leave the EU in order to strengthen its ties with Commonwealth countries, we believe that our membership of the EU helps to enhance and strengthen the UK’s partnership with countries like India,” the members of the group said in a letter signed by them. “We will be encouraging everyone to vote to remain in the European Union, including the 1.2 million British-Indians eligible to vote, whose votes could prove to be decisive in determining the outcome of the referendum,” the letter added.

The British-Indian MPs said that the Indian-origin community in the UK will have a “decisive say” in the vote that will determine the country’s relations with the rest of Europe. Indian business leaders had also warned that “Brexit” would have an impact on Indian business investments in the UK.

However, British Employment Minister Priti Patel had argued in favour of Brexit, saying that it would be better for India if the UK quit the EU after the referendum. She argued that an independent Britain free from the EU can ensure that we realise the full potential of our special relationship with India.

“While deciding on membership of the EU is a sovereign matter for Britain and its people, Indian industry is of the view that foreign businesses cannot remain isolated from such decisions,” Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) general secretary Didar Singh had said earlier. According to Mr Singh, the UK is a valued economic partner for India, and we firmly believe that leaving the EU would create considerable uncertainty for Indian businesses engaged with the UK, and would possibly have an adverse impact on investment as well as the movement of professionals to the UK.


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