Over 70 British-Indian councillors from across the political spectrum today backed a campaign to drum up support from the 1.2 million Indian-origin voters against Britain’s exit from the EU in Thursday’s referendum.
The 71 councillors said they believe that being a member of the 28-member European Union significantly benefits Britain, not just economically but in terms of security and trade and are actively campaigning in their local areas to secure the “Remain” vote in the in-out EU referendum.
“There are around 1.2 million British Indians voters across the UK and our votes could be absolutely crucial in determining the outcome of the EU referendum on 23 June,” said Alok Sharma, a Conservative MP and Prime Minister David Cameron’s Infrastructure Envoy for India, who heads the “British Indians for IN” campaign.
“It is clear that very many people and business leaders within the British-Indian community agree that voting to remain in the UK is the right choice for our country and our community. Please make sure your vote counts as we are better off and safer as member of the EU,” he said.
Areas represented by the Remain-favouring Indian-origin councillors include wards in England, Wales and Scotland, and represent the Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat parties, the campaign group said.
Councillor Geetha Morla, from Milton Keynes, said: “For me, there is no question about whether or not Britain should remain a member of the EU. The European single market is by far our biggest trading partner, providing jobs and ensuring lower prices in our shops.
“Our membership also means we have a seat at the table to determine the rules of doing business and that we can collaborate on issues such as the environment. By contrast, a vote for Brexit is a leap in the dark and a huge gamble on an uncertain future.”
Balwant Chadha, councillor for Cumbernauld North in North Lanarkshire and the country’s first Sikh Justice of the Peace, said: “I strongly believe that Britain is in a much stronger position remaining in EU and safer not only economically and culturally, but is able to lead people in European countries to improve their quality of life.”
Sandwell councillor Preet Gill said Britain had a history of engaging with the world.
“With its rich diversity it cannot and should not be a country that becomes insular but continues to be outward facing and addressing matters like immigration, terrorism and the economy with the EU as together, we are stronger and better,” she said.
Leicester City Councillor Vijay Singh Riyait believes that Britain’s membership of the EU is critical to our long-term prospects, commenting: “Britain’s future economic and social well-being relies on us being an integral part of the EU and working to tackle the big issues facing us all such as climate change, migration and security with our Europeans friends.”
Councillor Kamaljit Singh Chana, from Harrow Council, said the choice for him is simple: “I want a seat at the table whereby I can effectively contribute to an issue, influence and set strategy that will affect my country.”
Councillor Mukesh Malhotra from Hounslow said his vote to remain would be a vote for his children and grandchildren.
“Our membership of EU supports jobs and investment and helps deliver social justice. I stay remain for the benefit of my children & grandson in the future,” he said.
Senior Labour MP Virendra Sharma MP, who represents Ealing Southall constituency with a large British Indian community and also a part of the British Indian for IN cross-party group welcomed the overwhelming grassroots support.
He said: “Being a member of the EU means that the UK is better off and safer in an increasingly uncertain world. While the UK is in the EU it stands between the Commonwealth and Europe, we are a stronger trading partner for India while we have access to the Single Market.
“Voting to remain means staying part of the single market of 500 million people – Britain’s biggest trading partner – with a say over the rules of doing business across Europe. That means more jobs, lower prices, and more financial security for British families.”