Mr Virendra Sharma, senior Labour politician of Indian-origin and MP from Ealing Southall, appeals to the Asian community to stay in European Union. A special for Asian Lite News
The UK’s role in the world and our relations with some of our most important allies will be decided on the 23rd June this year. There is a stark choice between a UK that interacts with our neighbours and allies positively, or a leap in the dark. Polling stations will be open from 7am until 10pm and I urge all of you to vote remain.
The UK is a stronger ally and friend of India and the rest of the Commonwealth when it is a leading EU member. It isn’t a choice between the Commonwealth and Europe, Britain is a stronger partner to India when it is in Europe.
It is a vital issue when you consider that there are 3.2m people born in other Commonwealth countries living in the UK, 1.2m of those living in London. In London alone there are half a million Indians, a third of the total Indian population in the UK. A remain vote makes the UK a better home for all of us.
British exports to Commonwealth members have increased by an average of 63 per cent since 2004 – while Britain continued to be a leading EU member. Our exports to India specifically rose by 143 per cent in this period, just as they rose by 82 per cent to Pakistan and by 69 per cent to Australia. Last year more than £9 Billion worth of new trade deals were agreed while the Indian Prime Minister was in London. No wonder Prime Minister Modi said “As far as India is concerned, if there is an entry point for us to the European Union that is the UK”
What’s more, EU trade deals with Commonwealth countries protect their interests and cement historic ties. The UK benefits from EU agreements with countries such as Canada, which is set to be worth £2.3bn to the UK economy per year.
Outside of the EU the UK would not benefit from being part of the world’s largest trading bloc. That is why Prime Minister Modi said that the UK was India’s “gateway” to the EU: commonwealth countries want to trade with and invest in the UK because of our links to Europe, which would be sacrificed if we left. India is the third largest source of FDI to the UK. Our membership of the EU is no barrier to trade with the Commonwealth, it is what makes trade and investment with the UK an appetizing proposition.
The single market has the potential to bring 800,000 new jobs and £60bn to the UK economy. Of course we want trading relationships around the globe, but turning our back on our biggest markets just next door is no way to look ‘open for business’. The economic security and opportunities of all communities in the UK who benefit from a thriving UK economy would be at risk if we ignore such numbers.
Those that argue we should leave the EU ignore the fact that it is mostly their government that is stopping Indian workers entering the UK. Priti Patel is using divide and rule politics to scapegoat the EU for her government’s actions. The government could quite easily lower its requirements for chefs recruited abroad, but leaving the EU wouldn’t alter the situation.
The Head of FICCI said that “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 and movement of professionals to the UK.”
A vote to stay in the EU confirms that the UK is committed to working with other countries, and that we aren’t afraid of a changing world. Protectionist trade will only risk jobs and businesses and we’ll be turning our backs on a free-trade deal with 500 Million people. We must vote to remain.