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Oldest UK Indian diaspora body announces support for ‘Lexit’

world Updated: May 23, 2016 10:00 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
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Photos of Bhagat Singh, BR Ambedkar and Kanhaiya Kumar at an event organised by the Indian Workers Association in London on Saturday. (HT Photo)

A Left-leaning political organisation of UK-based Indians has announced its support for a movement named “Lexit” or the “Left Leave Campaign”, which pushes for Britain’s exit from the European Union during the June 23 referendum, but not for the reasons cited by the better known “Vote Leave Campaign”.

The Indian Workers Association (IWA), which was formed in 1938 and is the oldest grouping of members of UK Indians, announced its support for the Lexit campaign at an event in Southall on Saturday, which included tributes to leaders of the Indian Left such as HS Surjeet and AB Bardhan.

The Lexit campaign argues Britain should vote to leave the EU because the EU has a “big business agenda”, that it is allegedly “unreformable and undemocratic”. And they say it is “a myth that the EU defends workers”.

Harsev Bains of the IWA echoed similar concerns while explaining the IWA’s support. He said though the European Economic Community (now the European Community) was formed 40 years ago with the aim of helping the movement of finance between its member states, it had yielded little benefit for ordinary working people in Britain, especially those from India.

“For us the borders still exist today. People from India still require one visa for Europe and a separate visa for UK. We get the worst of all worlds. Even in trading terms, we recall last year’s embargo against the alphonso mangoes banned by Europe and applied to UK,” Bains said.

The Lexit campaign has been critical of arguments made on both sides of the political divide, such as those by Conservative MP Boris Johnson and ministers of prime minister David Cameron’s government.

“Voters deserve better than an ugly choice between David Cameron’s pro-EU campaign (or the pipe dream of a ‘Social Europe’) on the one hand, and the reactionary anti-EU campaigning of UKIP (UK Independence Party) and the Tory right on the other,” Rob Griffiths, general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, one of the groups supporting the Lexit campaign, said.