There are 12 Indian-origin MPs in the current House of Commons and most of them are likely to vote against the EU withdrawal agreement that will be put to vote on Tuesday evening – albeit, for differing reasons.

The cohort of 12 elected in the 2017 mid-term elections represents the largest number of Indian-origin MPs to be elected in British parliamentary history: seven from Labour and five from the ruling Conservative party.

While Labour has announced its intention to vote against the agreement, it will also be opposed by Indian-origin Conservative MPs, going by their postures and statement since the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

The seven Labour MPs are: Virendra Sharma, Keith Vaz, Lisa Nandy, Seema Malhotra, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Preet Kaur Gill and Valerie Vaz. The five Conservative MPs are: Priti Patel, Alok Sharma, Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman and Shailesh Vara.

A leading Brexiteer, Patel has strongly opposed the agreement: “We should not be frightened to reject the deal agreed by the EU and UK. We should instead fully prepare, pursue a renegotiation and get Britain ready to make a success of the opportunities that come with Brexit.”

Vara, who resigned as minister in the Northern Ireland Office in November when the draft agreement was published, wrote to May: “With respect Prime Minister, this Agreement does not provide for the United Kingdom being a sovereign, independent country leaving the shackles of the EU, however it is worded”.

“We are a proud nation and it is a sad day when we are reduced to obeying rules made by other countries who have shown that they do not have our best interests at heart. We can and must do better than this. The people of the UK deserve better. That is why I cannot support this agreement.”

Braverman, another leading Brexiteer who was a minister in Brexit department, also resigned the day the draft agreement was published in November, following other ministers in the May government who resigned on the issue.

Sharma reiterated Labour’s position that May should resign and call a general election. “I campaigned against leaving the EU, I voted against the triggering of Article 50 when I felt it was premature and counselled that the Prime Minister should cooperate across parliament to find a better Brexit deal.

“The collapse of support for the Prime Minister’s deal is indicative of her refusal to work across Parliament and with the opposition party. It doesn’t have support in Parliament or across the country.”

“That is why it is time for Theresa May to step down and call a General Election or to hold a People’s Vote on the country’s support for her half-baked, growth destroying and bad deal,” Sharma added.

Industrialist Swraj Paul, member of the House of Lords who will vote on the agreement if and when it comes to the House, said he did not remember such a “logjam” in British politics as the current impasse over Brexit.

He said: “While remaining very pro-European, I am a very strong believer in democracy and my view is plain and simple. If the people have voted in a referendum, that decision must be implemented. We cannot have a referendum after a referendum because some people don’t like it.”

“Parliament at the moment is very divided because they are not looking at the issues, the issue is a decision to implement what has been decided by the country. It should happen and I think still it will happen. It will be very unfortunate if it doesn’t. To have another referendum is a joke.”

First Published: Jan 14, 2019 19:37 IST

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