Monday, September 25, 2023



UK EU referendum result is a Regressive Vote – by Jassi Khangura

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For British voters to have chosen to leave the European Union is not only a regrettable and regressive step, but it underlines the primary xenophobic tendencies upon which the Leave campaign was based.

The result is unexpected and has taken the markets by surprise. Most pundits had expected the Remain vote to win, the betting industry was indicating the same and the financial markets had by and large discounted most risks of the “Brexit”. For Sterling to fall so markedly today, in spite of the earlier provisioning, is proof in itself of how ground shattering a vote this is.

As the world heads for closer integration the UK appears to be heading for a more isolationist stance as it endeavours to find its place in the new world order.

The jingoistic signing of “God Save The Queen” and out-right hatred against the hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans that have recently legally migrated to the UK, appear to have convinced the British public that to make Britain great again, you have to pull up the shutters.

As a former 40 year resident of the UK and one that enjoyed the best of the British education system, it hurts me that the same racism experienced by my parents and other Punjabis that migrated to the UK, mainly from the 1950s onwards, still exists today.

The demographics of this vote indicate that the better educated overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU. It is the working class that has felt threatened by recent immigration, that have chosen to leave the EU, especially those in England.

Indians in the UK were significantly in favour of staying in the EU. Ten of thousands of illegal Indians in mainland Europe, mostly Punjabis, had hopes of being regularised in their host country, mostly Italy and Spain, and eventually migrating to the UK.

I am concerned that the underlying xenophobia may impact the large Indian population in the UK. As we all know when racist tendencies are not contained, violence can often not be far away.

The British leadership has failed miserably in firstly calling this referendum when it could easily have been avoided, and then not mounting an effective campaign that failed to offer the voting public a viable path to a better future within the EU.

Whether this leads to more profound changes in the EU is as yet unclear, but unbottling the genie is rarely without complications.

Trade lost with the EU may benefit other countries. India may well gain as the UK seeks to rebuild trade with the Commonwealth countries. But Indian companies seeking to invest in Europe, which had earlier viewed the UK as a bridgehead to Europe, may well seek alternative routes.

It may not quite turn out to be the Brave New World that the exit voters dream off, but it will certainly be more uncertain and, perhaps, unsettling.

Jassi Khangura

General Secretary Punjab Congress, former MLA

24 June 2016.

Ph: 98761-97761

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