The majority of UK's British-Indian community are expected to vote against a Brexit, new research has suggested. According to the British Election Survey (BES), 51.7% of Indian-origin voters will vote for Britain to remain in the EU, compared to 27.74% who are voting for a Brexit.
However, the research also suggested that a significant portion of the British-Indian community are still unsure about which way to vote. Nearly 17% of respondents said that they "don't know", with experts saying that their decision could shift the outcome of the referendum on 23 June.
According to the Press Trust of India, the report stated: "The new data indicates that ethnic minority voters could hold the balance of power. While white voters are split evenly, all ethnic minority groups are far more likely to back Remain. However, the data also suggests that the turnout could be 20% to 25% lower among ethnic minority voters."
The BES survey collected responses from 22,000 voters, which concluded that the majority of people from South Asian backgrounds would vote to remain in the EU. Among Pakistani-origin voters, 56% opted against a Brexit, while 42% of Bangladeshis also chose to vote against the Leave campaign.
With more than 1.2 million British-Indians eligible to vote in the referendum, politicians on both sides of the debate have begun engaging with the Indian diaspora to earn their vote. In April, a group of parliamentarians launched the "British-Indians for IN" campaign, urging the community to vote against a Brexit.
Speaking at the time, MP Alok Sharma, David Cameron's Infrastructure Envoy to India, said: "With more than a million eligible voters in the upcoming referendum, British-Indians could prove to have a decisive say in our future relationship with Europe. British-Indians are outward looking internationalists, which is why so many of us believe that Britain's place belongs in the EU where we are leading the agenda for reform."
However, UK Employment Minister and Cameron's Indian diaspora champion said that a Brexit would "boost UK-India relations". Priti Patel noted that trading links with India would improve when the UK was "not held back by the vested self-interests of the EU".
On 20 May, Commonwealth Minister Hugo Swire hit out at Patel and others, insisting that India would not benefit if the UK leaves the EU. He noted: "There has been a creeping narrative promoted by the Brexitiers that somehow the Commonwealth can replace the EU as the UK's trading bloc partner. My argument is that it is an erroneous leap of faith to take. This is all based on imagination, rather than reality."