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RAJ KANWAR | 20 JUNE, 2017

"Theresa May Has Failed Us": Lord Billimoria

RAJ KANWAR


NEW DELHI: In an online interview with Dehra Dun-based veteran journalist RAJ KANWAR, Lord Karan Bilimoria, a crossbench peer in the House of Lords speaks about the disastrous consequences of the snap General Elections ordered by the Prime Minister Theresa May that has left her government even weaker. Hopefully, he says, the public will wake up to the folly of BREXIT and that we as a country will unilaterally revoke Article 50 and continue to stay in the European Union and regain our place at the top table of Europe as also the respect and confidence of the global community.

BRITAIN has today become a laughing stock of Europe and, quite frankly of the world,” says Lord Karan Bilimoria, a crossbench peer in Britain’s House of Lords in an online interview with this correspondent. “I wish that the people who had voted for BREXIT would realize that one of the most serious consequences of their action is that Britain is losing and has possibly lost the Standing and respect not only in Europe but also in the global community,” he adds.

Less than 16 months ago, Britain was a fast growing economy in the Western world and was not only at the top of the table in Europe but also its envy, with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council besides memberships of G7, G8 and the G20. “We had the best of all possible worlds in Europe – in a single market with access to 3.2 million highly skilled and unskilled EU workforce, leading to the lowest level of unemployment they have had in living memory and the highest level of employment. We had benefitted much from being in the EU by having the fastest cumulative GDP growth rate of 62 per cent virtually double that of Germany at 35 per cent. This was the fastest of any of the original EU countries since its formation,” Lord Bilimoria adds.

Lord Karan says that the results of the Snap Elections called by the Prime Minister Theresa May with a view to increasing her majority in the House have virtually boomeranged. Rather than increasing her majority, the results on the contrary have reduced the Prime Minister’s party to a minority in the House. “And now having such a weak and unstable government puts us even in a weaker position in trying to negotiate a BREXIT where the odds had been stacked against us from day one – we are one country against 27 in Europe; we are 65 million people against 500 million in the entire Europe. And to make matters worse, we are also against the European Commission, European Parliament and the European Council,” he says.

Lord Bilimoria regrets that as a country they are now weak and vulnerable, the business that craved for certainty has instead gets uncertainty and that too magnified. And the most frightening reality that this election has revealed was the sheer negligence of the Conservative Party in cutting down our police forces by 20,000 and the neighbourhood and community policing by another 26,000. “Our police levels today are lower than they were before 9/11 while the world has become much more dangerous since then,” he regrets. On the contrary, we should have augmented our police forces rather than reduce. Talking about the armed police officers, Bilimoria says that at the height of IRA troubles in the 1980s, they had 5,000 armed police officers on the streets of London alone. Today, they are just 5,000 for the entire country. And how much more dangerous this country is today? “In fact, we should have more – much more – in police numbers instead of reducing these,” he adds.

“And pray what was the PM’s response during the horrific attacks in Manchester and London Bridge when the elections were on? What did she say about this outside of Downing Street that ‘she would give the police and the authorities the powers they need to keep our country safe’? However, what she did not say in the wake of those terrorists’ attacks was that she would significantly increase police numbers, bring back the neighbourhood and community policing and drastically increase the number of armed officers in London and throughout the country. The most important duty of a Prime Minister is to ensure the safety and security of our citizens, our communities and our businesses. Unfortunately, she is missing that boldness and urgency. The Prime Minister has thus failed us and, I am afraid, that she will continue to fail us on such a crucial issue as the security of the people.”

Ironically, the election that was called to create greater stability and thus provide our government and the Prime Minister more power to negotiate ‘the best deal for Britain’ has turned out to be a disaster. “We now have a hung Parliament and we as a people have been left hung out to dry,” Karan laments.

Lord Bilimoria says that we have had election after election; first was the 2010 General Election followed by the AV Referendum and that was followed by Scottish Referendum and the Scottish Referendum was followed by the EU Referendum. And now all that has been followed by 2017 Snap General elections with Theresa May losing her mandate and her credibility, meaning that we could be heading for another General Election, perhaps as early as this Autumn.

The silver lining, says Lord Karan, in all this is that hopefully the public will wake up to the folly of BREXIT and that we as a country will unilaterally revoke Article 50 and continue to stay in the European Union and regain our place at the top table of Europe as also the respect and confidence of the global community.

“What is clear is the youth of this country that sadly did not turn out in numbers for the EU Referendum and having learnt their lesson did turn out in droves in the General Elections and were thus largely responsible for this result. With this engagement from the youth, there is all the more encouragement that, given their say in what is their future, BREXIT will not happen,” says Karan hopefully.

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