Ahead of this month’s key referendum, more than 80 British Indian business leaders have supported Britain’s membership in the European Union, saying Brexit will have the “double whammy effect” by hitting UK businesses as well as impacting inward investment from countries like India.
In an open letter, 81 signatories who represent companies which range from multi-million-pound businesses to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and employ thousands of people across the UK, warned that a vote to leave the EU would create “significant uncertainty” and put jobs and business investment at risk.
They operate across a range of sectors including financial and legal services, hospitality, consultancy, real estate, care services, retail, media, technology, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, construction and manufacturing.
British Indian MP Alok Sharma, who is coordinating the cross-party anti-Brexit campaign group ‘British Indians for IN’ in the lead up to the June 23 referendum, claimed the views of the Indian-origin businessmen formed an important majority view of the country.
“As the Prime Minister’s Infrastructure Envoy to India I speak very regularly with business leaders in the UK and India. Their overwhelming view echoes that of the signatories to this letter, that a vote for the UK to leave the EU will be bad for British businesses, jobs and investment,” Sharma said.
“Brexit will have the double whammy effect of not only hitting UK businesses but also impacting on inward investment. Indian companies have informed me that some decisions on future investments into the UK have been deferred until the outcome of the referendum is known and, if we vote to leave the EU, there is a big risk that Indian companies will think twice before investing in the UK,” he said in a statement.
The signatories said they believe the UK’s membership of the EU helps “strengthen the British economy”.
Their letter reads: “Some of those who want Britain to leave the EU suggest that doing so will somehow help to increase our trade with high growth economies like that of India. We disagree with this assessment.
“Britain is a stronger economic partner with countries like India because we are part of the European Union. In our experience one of the key reasons that Britain is an attractive destination for inward overseas investment is because we are seen as a gateway to the European Single market of 500 million people.”
Some of the prominent Indian-origin businessmen who have signed the letter include Cobra Beer chief Lord Karan Bilimoria, Vitabiotics chairman Kartar Lalvani and hotelier Girish Sanger, among others.
“The UK is the most important market in Europe for Indian FDI, and Indian companies have created more jobs in Britain than any other Asian country in 2015, according to UK government figures. A Brexit could cause uncertainty for FDI, immigration and trade relations between the two strong partners,” said Pratik Dattani, Director – UK, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), also among the signatories.