Liberal Democrats to reinstate post-study work visa, hold another Brexit referendum
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Liberal Democrats to reinstate post-study work visa, hold another Brexit referendum

Party leader Tim Farron said instead of encouraging Indian Students to stay in the UK, the Conservative government “forces them out” in order to meet an “artificial and unachievable immigration target”.

world Updated: May 17, 2017 22:54 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Liberal Democrats,Tim Farron,Brexit
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, at the Royal College of Nursing in Liverpool on Monday.(Reuters)

Positioning itself as the party of “Remainers”, the Liberal Democrats on Wednesday promised to hold another referendum on Britain leaving the European Union, and held out the prospect of reinstating the post-study work visa popular with Indian students.

The visa that allowed Indian and other non-EU students to work for two years after completing studies was abolished in 2012, when the Liberal Democrats were in a coalition government with the Conservative Party underDavid Cameron's prime ministership.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told Hindustan Times: “It is ludicrous that we take in Indian students, train them, and then as soon as they are skilled and ready to work, the Conservatives boot them out of the country.

“British universities are world leaders that attract some of the most talented individuals from India to the benefit of the UK economy. But instead of encouraging them to stay here and contribute to keeping Britain at the forefront of cutting-edge research, this Conservative Brexit government forces them out. And all in a vain attempt to meet an artificial and unachievable immigration target.”

Abolishing the visa is considered one of the main reasons for a sharp fall in the number of Indian students coming to Britain in recent years.

The party’s commitment is confined to international students in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) who find suitable employment within six months of graduating, and is aimed at meeting a chronic shortage of workers in the four subjects.

On Brexit, the party’s manifesto said: “(When) the terms of our future relationship with the EU have been negotiated (over the next two years on the government’s timetable), we will put that deal to a vote of the British people in a referendum, with the alternative option of staying in the EU on the ballot paper.

“Every vote for the Liberal Democrats in this election is a vote to give the final say to the British people,” it added.

Farron said at the manifesto’s release that Brexit represented "the biggest fight for the future of our country in a generation", and added: "The Liberal Democrats want you to have your choice over your future. You should have your say on the Brexit deal in a referendum. And if you don't like the deal you should be able to reject it and choose to remain in Europe."

The party won 57 seats in 2010 – becoming the third largest party – but slumped to eight in the 2015 election, but hopes to recover its position as the UK’s third largest party in the June 8 election by appealing to the large number of voters opposed to Brexit.

First Published: May 17, 2017 22:44 IST