As Brexit vote signals EU divide, India’s politicos wary of impact on economy

  • Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 24, 2016 12:27 IST
Britain’s referendum voted to leave the European Union, a decision that tears up the island nation's EU membership and could spark the greatest emergency of the bloc's 60-year history. (AFP Photo)

As Britain’s exit from the European Union – dubbed Brexit – became a reality, Indian political parties were a divided lot.

Read | LIVE: It’s official. Britain votes to leave European Union

While some leaders were not too thrilled at another division within Europe, some blamed structural problems. The ruling BJP however remained silent, preferring to wait till the final results were officially declared. “We will wait till we see the final results,” said BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli.

Congress’ Jairam Ramesh was “sad” that Europe’s tendency to commit “spectacular suicides” continue even now. “It committed two suicides in 20th century. In this century, this is the first spectacular suicide by Europe. They seem to have a morbid propensity for suicide,” he said.

The communists, typically, blamed the ‘neo-liberal’ economic order for this fall of Europe.

“Coming together of European countries was a product that came after the great collapse of the Soviet Union. It was important against the threat of uni-polarity that the US, the only surviving superpower, posed. But EU got waded into the principles of neo-liberalism, it became subordinate to the overall domination of global finance,” said CPI(M) Central Committee member Nilotpal Basu.

Read | Oil slumps after early returns show close Brexit vote

Biju Janata Dal (BJD)’s Lok Sabha floor leader, Bhartruhari Mahtab, is worried about the future on Indian companies and the Brexit’s possible impact on the economy. “Our fear is about the economy. The majority of our trade, foreign investments will have an adverse impact.”

How Britain voted. (Data: BBC)

Mahtab, however, added that despite this loss, European Union (EU) will continue to be very important for India. “We have already developed our trade relations with France and Germany and Italy. After economic liberalisation, our relations with Europe only became stronger with passing time. So, our relations with EU minus England will remain a very important area.”

Ramesh however regards EU as “not a political or financial project”.

“It was a unifier for countries that fought with each other for hundreds of years. Britain’s exit clearly weakens Europe. It is sad as we need a strong Europe to counter-balance the US.”

Mahtab quipped, “It might be a prejudice but I wanted the Europe to stay together.”

Basu, however, blamed the structural imbalances of the EU for its troubles. “Austerity became the war cry. Therefore the emerging electoral outcome in Brexit referendum appears to be a major backlash against the strangulating reality that the financial and political institutions of EU and European bank represented. We need to wait and watch.”

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