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Britain is better off in Eurpe : By Seema Malhotra


 Labour is believes that the British people, pour society and our economy will be better off if we vote to remain in the European Union (EU) on 23rd June. It brings us jobs, growth and investment, protects British workers and consumers and helps keep us safe. Leaving would put that at risk and diminish Britain’s influence in the world. As we approach polling day, it looks like this referendum could be a close-fought contest, so it’s absolutely vital people have all the facts and can make an informed decision.

Instead, what we’ve seen from the Leave camp when they are speaking to a black and ethnic minority audience is a deeply cynical attempt to present this vote as an entirely false choice between our membership of the EU and our relationship with the Commonwealth. It is a false choice because it isn’t an either or situation – we can and should be a prominent and leading member of both. Not just because it is good for us, but is actually also good for other Commonwealth countries as well.

Our closest Commonwealth partners think so too – India’s Narendra Modi, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull, and New Zealand’s John Key have all spoken out against a Brexit. While businesses from around the Commonwealth see Britain as an ideal location for investment precisely because of both our historic ties and our position as a gateway to the rest of Europe.

Don’t listen to those who misleadingly claim we have to pick between our Commonwealth membership and our EU membership. Listen to Baroness Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary General, who is clear that the organisation she leads “does not set itself up in competition with Europe – we are partners”.

And it’s not just our Commonwealth partners who have warned about the risk of leaving the EU. President Obama feels so strongly about the vote that he travelled to Britain to warn us not throw away our power and influence in the world. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s PM, warned British voters that leaving the EU could threaten investment by his country and put more than 100,000 jobs at risk. They know that by playing a leading role in Europe we actually amplify British influence, we don’t diminish it.

But we know what lies behind the Leaver’s false choice – they want to exploit the close ties ethnic minority Britons have with the Commonwealth to insinuate that if only we left the EU then more people could come here from elsewhere – your granny, your aunty, your cousin.

And I know that the Leave campaign is guilty of serious misinformation on the doorstep in constituencies like my own of Feltham and Heston on issues that affect British South Asian businesses and communities. In particularly, the so-called “curry crisis”. We know this is a real issue. That’s why, in Labour’s 2015 General Election manifesto we said that we would put curry chefs on the skilled migrants list and, coupled with introducing apprenticeships to train new curry chefs right here.

But the Conservatives pledged to do nothing. And since then seven prominent leave campaigners who’ve sat round the Cabinet table in the past year – Priti Patel, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, John Whittingdale, Theresa Villiers, Boris Johnson and Chris Grayling – one has to ask why they have not used their influence to change the situation. Trust me – if seven Cabinet members had raised this as an issue, something would have been done.

The truth is that they are blaming the EU for their own government’s failures on migration. Gove, Johnson, Patel and the others have said they would keep a target of getting net migration to the tens of thousands if we left the EU. So they know there would be no let up on restrictions imposed on skilled migration from the rest of the world, they would simply apply to EU workers as well. And anyone who believes Nigel Farage wants to see more people coming here from abroad, curry chefs or otherwise, is likely to end up feeling misled and betrayed.

They think they can get away with treating people like fools. But this decision is too important; Britain’s EU membership gives us a seat at the top table and a stronger voice on the world stage – to stay strong, we must vote to Remain.