Ethnic minorities may oppose Brexit

The official campaign period for the June 23 referendum began on April 15, 2015.

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:52 am IST

Published - April 16, 2016 01:24 am IST - London

Indian-origin Minister of State for Employment, Priti Patel, has supported the Leave campaign. File photo

Indian-origin Minister of State for Employment, Priti Patel, has supported the Leave campaign. File photo

Ethnic minorities in the U.K., including those from India, are likely to vote for the country to stay in the European Union in the June 23 referendum in which roughly 43 million people are eligible to cast their vote.

This was stated by the well-known political commentator Peter Kellner, who till recently headed the U.K.’s leading online rating agency YouGov.

“One reason is that the ethnic minorities are still pro-Labour. While one should not, of course, fall into the trap of assuming that all immigrants are pro-immigration, there is something on the edge of racism of people in the Leave campaign. I think that for many people to choose to be on the same side as Nigel Farage [head of the United Kingdom Independence Party] would be quite a stretch,” he said.

However, Mr. Kellner qualified his statement in the light of the changes in ethnic voting behaviour in the May 2005 general elections in the U.K., in which a section of well-to-do Indians shifted political allegiances from the Labour to the Conservatives.

In the political realignments that the referendum debate has effected, prominent Indian-origin Conservative cabinet minister Priti Patel — whom Prime Minister David Cameron had appointed the U.K. India Diaspora Champion — joined the group of Conservative members of Parliament, led by Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, who support Brexit.

“YouGov data at the last election showed that Indian, Chinese, and Hong Kong heritage persons were increasingly voting along class and income lines, [showing] their ethnicity mattered less than their economic and social position, whereas ethnic voters from Pakistan, Bangladesh and the African Caribbean were still driven by ethnic issues and voted for the Labour,” said Mr. Kellner.

“So as far as the ethnic minority voters turnout goes, in general, I would suspect a pro-Remain majority. Not necessarily a huge majority, but a majority nevertheless.”

Campaign period

The official campaign period for the June 23 referendum began on Friday, according to the U.K.’s Election Commission. In this period, which includes the referendum day, “the rules that campaigners must follow at the referendum on issues such as spending and working together come into force,” the release states.

Spending limits for a registered campaigner is £7,00,000, for the designated lead campaigners £7 million, and for political parties a variable amount between £7,00,000 and £7 million based on the party’s share of the vote at the last United Kingdon Parliamentary General Election.

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