Entrepreneur and parliamentarian Lord Swraj Paul has dismissed calls for another referendum over the Britain’s decision to exit the European Union (EU) as a “mistake” that would undermine democracy.
The founder and chief of UK-based Caparo Group said the focus should be on getting the best deal through Parliament before the March 29 Brexit deadline as per the will of the British electorate, which voted for Brexit in June 2016, and ending the current uncertainties for the economy.
“I am a European but first I am a believer in democracy. In my view, even the thought of a second referendum is a mistake because it blurs the lines and could lead to calls for second elections in future if the result of a particular vote is not acceptable to a section,” Lord Paul said.
British MPs returned from their holidays this week and resumed their debate over Theresa May’s controversial Withdrawal Agreement, a vote on which the prime minister had postponed last month amid certain defeat in the face of many of her own Conservative Party members refusing to back it.
The deal has proved highly contentious, especially over the issue of Britain’s rights around an open border with EU member-country Ireland. The crucial vote is now scheduled for the week of January 14, even as pressure has been building up on the Opposition parties to more decisively back a second referendum, dubbed the “People’s Vote”, in an effort to avert a chaotic no-deal exit.
“The deal prime minister May has struck feels reasonable. It is not an easy task to get 27 other EU countries to agree on terms unanimously, but she has achieved a consensus. Now, we must finalise the best deal possible and leave in an orderly way,” said Paul.
“It is not as if the EU is shutting the door on us or throwing us out. We are choosing to leave. Five or 10 years down the line, we can always revisit the issue of membership,” noted the senior peer in the House of Lords.
The London-based industrialist with business interests across the UK and India described the year 2019 as a significant one for both countries, with India set for general elections and the UK set for its formal exit from the EU. He expressed confidence that the impact on bilateral ties would be positive following both developments.
“I don’t think governments have much to do in the India-UK relationship. The people to people ties are very strong. There needs to be a better understanding in Britain about the realities of India today and that this is a relationship of equals,” he said.
In reference to the upcoming Indian elections, the parliamentarian called for a head-to-head television debate between the potential prime ,inisterial candidates, along the lines of the UK and US election campaigns.
He said: “With all the different channels in India, this would be the ideal way to reach out to the voters.”
“Every election in India has only made it stronger and I am confident this will not be very different. In India, we cannot afford for the economic progress to take a hit and the Indian electorate always votes wisely.”