The British Conundrum

International National Top Story

As tension surrounding Brexit hits a high peak, India watches on with bated breath.

By Ajay Ramanathan

Bengaluru, March 28, 2019: The road to Brexit took a turn sharp turn on May 25, 2019, with the UK parliament announcing that it had taken over the reins from the government. Reports suggested that lawmakers were considering alternate Brexit options. The legislature proposed to do this earlier by voting to take over the parliamentary timetable from the government.

Earlier the government had rejected a petition calling for the revocation of article 50 of the European Union (EU)  – thereby, cancelling Brexit entirely. This article of the Treaty enables member states to withdraw from the Union.

Brexit is short for ‘British Exit’. The term refers to Britain’s decision to exit the EU,  a conglomeration of 28 countries. The hallmark of the EU is the free exchange of labour and capital. The United Kingdom (UK) joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973. This organization later came to be known as the European Union.

In a June 23, 2016 referendum, the UK voted to leave the EU by 52 percent to 48 percent. The Brexit vote is not integral to the UK alone. It is said to have a global impact. There is a point to be made that Brexit would give India a higher seat in the European Union with Britain leaving the organization and also that Brexit would improve Britains relation with India, as the former would want to improve ties with other countries

The consensus on how Brexit would impact India is divided. Certain sections contend that it would impact India positively as the latter would get a foot in the door to Britain. Others, however, feel that Brexit would impact the level of investment made in Indian companies operating in the UK.

A  United Kingdom Council for International Student Affairs report noted that Indian students constituted the second largest contingent moving to the UK. On migration, those born in India constitute the largest group in London with 8.9 percent.

There are others, however, who believe differently. Ravi Gomes, an investment banker notes, “ I think Brexit will affect us. As I’m an investment banker, a lot of companies are reluctant to buy their stocks in the companies based in Britain. So we will have a hard time convincing our clients.”

This view was echoed by Ningthoujam Koiremba Singh, a professor in the Department of International Studies at Christ University in Bengaluru. “ Britain does not want to participate in the EU because of the conditions that the latter imposes on other countries. Also, they were not happy with the European currency (Euro).”

Singh was skeptical as to how Brexit might benefit India. Singh added, “The protection of identity was one the main reasons for Brexit. It is drawn from xenophobia against outsiders. It would mainly benefit Britain.”

However, Singh did not dismiss impact entirely, “India would still have purchasing power in the UK. However, he was cautious about India’s prospects. Brexit is incomplete, the prospects are limited.”