What do British Indians think of Brexit in terms of financial pros and cons? That was essentially the question at a Brexit Breakfast to which I was invited this past week?
Do we think the same as the mainstream – ie we hold every view possible from hard line remain to hard line exit?
Or do we think that fewer Poles and Romanians means more Indians in the UK? If self interest, and economic self interest best explains voting intentions then personalities and agenda items matter a lot less. So have we become mainstream? Or do we have special interests related to our Indianess?
I suspect we are mainstream, but just like the mainstream, certain issues resonate more with us due to our special characteristics as British Indians. For instance, how many British Hindus feel that if Brexit means limiting access to Muslims then that would impact their vote? Some, may be not many feel this way. Just as some, not many, native population British felt this way, and UKIP played on it.
As I said on the BBC recently, it was ISIS which swung the vote on June 23rd. It was a narrow vote, but ISIS saying we will send terrorists from Syria hidden in refugees to Turkey, then UKIP saying Turkey will join the EU and have free movement of Muslim refugees – that was a significant enough factor to make a difference in an election which was only about 2% between one side and the other in terms of swing.
So economically, are you a British Indian better off with more Poles doing your gardening, or worse off for taking your job. As a socio economic group you are better off.
And the Muslim question, economically not politically? Well it matters only politically because economically it is impossible to determine its impact if any. Politically, you may well hold racist views, or more accurately, ‘religiousist’ or Islamaphobic views.
Baroness Warsi of the Conservative Party thinks you may well do if you are a Tory. Elections do no outlaw voting based on your prejudices.
So what of it? Well economically the biggest UK investors include may Islamic countries. Qatar, Saudi, among them. So you are better off economically I would suggest with rich Muslim friends.
And if your problem is Iranians and Pakistanis, well tough visa laws are your best bet, not a Brexit vote on a second referendum.
I don’t believe in pandering to racists. So my view is – get the truth out. If there is data showing certain nationalities contribute less, then make it harder for them to come to the UK. Actually, economically we do this already.
Alpesh B Patel
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