LONDON: Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire on Wednesday quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi while making a strong appeal to voters to choose to remain in the European Union during the June 23 referendum on Britain’s membership of the 28-nation bloc.
Seeking to dismiss claims of the Vote Leave camp, Swire said in a speech at Chatham House that leaders of several Commonwealth countries wanted Britain to remain in the EU, since they saw London as the gateway to Europe.
Swire said: “India too sees this gateway role as vital. Prime Minister Modi during his visit to the UK last November said ‘As far as India is concerned, if there is an entry point for us to the European Union, that is the UK’”.
“And the head of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry agreed, adding that: ‘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’”.
Swire termed as “naïve… frankly irresponsible, misleading and unhelpful” the Brexit camp’s claim that leaving the EU would allow greater migration from the Commonwealth.
“Our membership of the EU does not prevent Commonwealth citizens from coming to the UK. Anyone suggesting that it would be different or easier is just raising false hopes by suggesting we would water down those criteria,” he said.
Priti Patel, one of six ministers in the David Cameron government in the Vote Leave camp, last week suggested that the uncontrolled immigration from within the EU had made it difficult for people from India and south Asia to migrate to Britain.
Meanwhile, in continuing referendum campaign, the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies said leaving the EU would add to Britain’s financial woes – a claim dismissed by the rival camp.