Two Indian-origin MPs join Patel in Brexit camp

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: May 24, 2016 17:34 IST
Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers and Employment minister Priti Patel met members of the Hindu community in Leicester at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Leicester, to discuss the Vote Leave campaign and the benefits that leaving the EU will have on communities (HT Photo)

Rishi Sunak and Suella Fernandes have joined Priti Patel, minister of state for employment in the David Cameron government, in the Vote Leave campaign advocating Britain to leave the European Union in the June 23 referendum.

Both Sunak (Richmond) and Fernandes (Fareham) are first-time Conservative MPs elected in May 2015. Sunak is the son-in-law of Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy. They joined over 20 MPs of Commonwealth background to make a new appeal for UK to leave the EU.

Signatories to a letter released on Tuesday claim that Britain’s membership of the EU is a barrier to ties being strengthened with the Commonwealth and the rest of the world, and that a vote to leave will allow Britain to adopt fairer trade and immigration policies.

 The claims are dismissed by the 'Remain in EU' camp, including by Foreign Office minister responsible for India and the Commonwealth, Hugo Swire. The cross-party 'British Indians for IN' group favouring continuing membership of the EU has the support of nearly 15 Indian-origin lawmakers.

Priti Patel, who also has the role of ‘Indian diaspora champion,’ said: “India is a growing market with the fastest growing working age population of any other major economy - but it is a market that we are forbidden from striking a trade deal with because it is against EU rules. That’s just one example of how the EU is holding our great nation back - if we Vote Leave we can change that.”

“Similarly, EU membership has led to us having an immigration system with discrimination and prejudice at its core. At present, we discriminate against those outside the EU - all due to the fact that EU freedom of movement rules mean we are unable to control migration from countries that are members of the bloc,” she added.

The letter says that because Britain’s trade policy is controlled by the EU, Britain is unable to sign bilateral free trade agreements with countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand or any other non-EU state.

“Commonwealth countries like India have been in talks with the EU about doing a trade deal since 2007 - to no avail. While we stand ready to trade and build close ties with countries across the world, the EU is inward looking, protectionist and more concerned with defending its own vested interests than supporting global trade and growth,” it said.

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