Indian-origin MPs in the U.K. Parliament have come together across party lines to voice their opposition to "Brexit" — Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) — stating that the United Kingdom was "stronger, safer and better off as a member of the EU." They launched the "British Indians for IN" campaign this week, ahead of the June 23 referendum.
About 15 Indian-origin lawmakers from the House of Commons and House of Lords started the campaign to call on the 1.2 million British Indians to vote for Britain to stay a part of the EU. The campaign's members include Keith Vaz, Lord Karan Bilimoria and Seema Malhotra, among others, according to the Press Trust of India.
"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," the group reportedly said in an open letter.
"We are united in our belief that the UK is stronger, safer and better off as a member of the EU."
The British Indian lawmakers said the Indian-origin community in the U.K. will have a "decisive say" in the vote that will determine the country's relation with the rest of Europe.
"The reason why the United Kingdom is so attractive to Indians is not just a shared history and culture, but also because Indian businesses see the U.K. as a springboard for access to the European Union," Seema Malhotra, a British Labour and Co-operative Party MP, told the Hindu.
Earlier, Indian business leaders had also warned that "Brexit" would have an impact on Indian business investments in the U.K.
"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. 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 and movement of professionals to the UK," A Didar Singh, secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), had said, according to the Guardian.
However, in February, Priti Patel, the senior-most Indian-origin member of British Prime Minister David Cameron's Cabinet, had called on the Indian diaspora to vote to leave the European Union, citing EU's protectionist policies were affecting U.K.'s trade and investment links with India.
"Indeed, one of the reasons why our trading links with India were inadequate when we came to Government in 2010 was because of the focus that Britain had given to trade within Europe as a result of membership of the EU," she said, according to PTI.
"Voting to leave the European Union would be a massive boost to UK-India relations. New opportunities for the UK and India to cooperate more closely and develop stronger trading links would emerge as the UK re-aligns its foreign policy and trade priorities," Patel said.