Brexit is happening and it might possibly be completed by 29 March 2019. Very soon, thanks to the UK government’s decision to invoke article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union, UK will cease to be a part of the European Union (EU) and will not seek permanent membership to the bloc anymore.
The whole world resonated with disdain over this quick knee-jerk reaction by ex-UK PM David Cameron and there has been a broad consensus among leading economists that Brexit will eventually reduce UK’s real per-capita income rather than increase it! Now, this is not only a matter of concern for UK’s citizens, but also for the Indian diaspora that lives there.
In this article, we look at what that Brexit might hold for the Indian Diaspora living in the UK and Brexit’s impact on Indians who have relatives in the UK considering the fact that large sections of Indian Diaspora chose to vote in favor of Brexit.
The divorce bill’s size – impact on UK industrialists and Indian companies
- The sum of money that EU has demanded from the UK for its departure from the bloc. Estimates by expert economists suggest that this could amount to a gross financial settlement of at least £89bn, however, the British are rallying hard to make the net bill half of this approximately £50bn.
- For the Indian diaspora, the smaller the bill the better. The larger the bill, the harder the transition of the UK towards forming free trade deals with other EU countries.
- Since many Indians are high-power industrialists in the UK like Lakshmi Mittal, Gulu Lalvani, Karan Bilimoria, etc. they will definitely feel the pinch of being unable to secure better trade deals to the immediate impact of the divorce bill on UK’s economy.
- On the contrary, Britain has shown an eagerness to establish worthwhile international trade accords with India that promise a free trade agreement, which the EU always failed to negotiate in the past.
- If this happens, conglomerates like Tata Steel will be able to resurrect their UK business if the country can make Chinese steel imports cheaper which never happened under EU’s draconian laws.
Demand for dual citizenship in India by NRIs
- There is hope that immigration rules for non-EU citizens will see some changes especially for NRIs who demanded dual citizenship when Indian PM Narendra Modi visited the UK in 2014 and addressed the Indian diaspora along with the-then UK PM David Cameron.
- An online petition by NRIs also seeks Indian passports for overseas Indians (citizens of Indian heritage) and NRIs. This would hopefully entitle them to domestic voting rights and other political and economic rights in India.
Better Education and research opportunities
- Many Indians who are temporary NRIs (stayed more than 182 days outside India in a financial year) travel to the UK for higher education and research in various fields.
- If dual citizenship happens, there will be a freer movement of such people especially IT professionals, academic researchers, and students who seek admissions in the UK for academia.
- The UK also needs to promise Indians and NRIs that there will be more opportunities for students to study there.
- Since there has been a sharp decline in students going to the UK owing to Britain’s rapid crackdown on fake education institutions, it has caused huge financial problems to students who were taken in by them. This issue needs to be addressed after Brexit.
Medical Aid Gets Better (hopefully)
- Many people attribute Britain’s bid to leave the EU due to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ‘open border’ policy which allowed many unwelcome migrants into the EU. This was a major rip in the fabric since the British social security system also contributes financial aid to such individuals.
- The unnecessary burden on the British National Health Service for providing ‘free’ medical care to migrants will now be more accessible to Britons.
Possibility of Taxes Going Up
- To pay the divorce bill, UK needs to shell out a huge sum of money. To curb its immediate impact on the region’s GDP, the government may hike taxes to fill in the deficit. Cameron’s confidence backfired when the referendum for the independence of Scotland fell flat.
- NRIs had not bargained for this while voting in favor of Brexit.
Better business for Small Scale Businesses
- SSBs have welcomed Brexit since EU had a really irritating trade policy like ‘how long an ideal carrot should be’ and ‘how much froth beer should produce when it is emptied into a mug’.
- Though there were greater opportunities for trade in the EU, these restrictions posed a major obstacle in ease of doing business.
- After Brexit, these businesses can function better and will be under lesser QC (quality control) restrictions after Britain exits the EU.
Trouble for Goans of Portuguese origin?
- Many Goans who immigrated to Britain as Portuguese citizens will take the biggest hit from Brexit if they are not considered ‘British’ citizens.
- If they can prove that they were in Goa (when Goa was a Portuguese colony), then they can apply for a Portuguese passport with the help of the Portuguese embassy and then fly to Lisbon and on towards London as a registered EU citizen which will help them stay in the UK or else they might face deportation if UK immigration laws are changed.
- Estimates suggest that the cost of the UK passport is set to increase by 27% (subject to parliamentary approval) – an added burden!
Brexit has been a bittersweet moment for the Indian Diaspora. They thought they could downplay the immigration card and enjoy better services in the UK. However, since Brexit is still a year away, what happens then is yet to see. We hope that everything goes well for them!