Should Brexit be the alternative preferred by UK voters, India needs to ensure that it takes advantage of the closer ties that London will seek from Delhi.
His disapproving comments on a possible (formal) rupture between the UK and the EU showed that Barack H. Obama has a soft spot for David Cameron (who is known within influential circles in India as a superb host at Chequers). Obama seems worried at the fact that much of the Conservative Party has rallied behind Boris Johnson and others such as Daniel Hannan (who is, ironically, a member of the European Parliament, and therefore seeks to divest himself of his job) in their call to voters in the UK to support “Brexit”, a formal break with the European Union. Of course, that construct has over the past two decades has grown a gargantuan bureaucracy busily inventing work for itself at the expense of many of the countries which form the bloc. While the demise of the USSR ought to have resulted in a downsizing of NATO and a change in focus to terrorism and cyber threats, the contrary has taken place, with the alliance inserting itself into Africa and Asia in a manner last popular in the 19th century, and with the same disastrous results on local populations. As for the EU bureaucracy, this has allowed neither slowing economic growth on the continent or the reality of those corners of Europe that were less restrictive in their regulations, having progressed faster than the rest (East and West Europe are obvious exemplars) to slow down its expansion, with each day going by being spent in discovering some corner of European life to intrude into. Unlike Hannan, the others enjoying salaries and allowances milked from taxpayers are understandably reluctant to leave such privileges behind, and are aware that a Brexit may very soon be followed by a “Gerxit” (a German withdrawal) and a “Frexit” (a French pullout from the EU), thereby leaving the EU only with its less consequential members, although almost certainly with an even bigger bureaucracy than before.
Barack Obama is among the most cerebral of world leaders, so he must be fully aware that his warning (that the UK would get dismissed to the back of the queue after Brexit) was nonsense. The reality is that the country has specialised precisely in those sectors that US counterparts will need to work closely with, principally the knowledge and financial industries. Whether the UK being within the EU or not, New York cannot dilute the platinum threads that it shares with London, nor will the reality of the UK being next only to the US and Israel in terms of creative output be affected. Neither the US nor the rump EU can afford the luxury of proving Obama right by ignoring the UK rather than ensuring that as little disruption in commerce and services takes place after a Brexit. This is apart from the incalculable benefit of having the freedom to choose as migrants those from Pune or Chennai, rather than having to accept any who make the crossing from Raqqa or Idlib, a problem the EU will face for years more without pause.
If anything, a formal break with the elephantine and racially based federation, which is the EU, will ignite rather than extinguish creativity and dynamism within the UK, with the possible exception of Scotland, where Old Labour values are deep rooted, and whose voters can be expected to oppose Brexit. Indeed, should David Cameron win his bet that voters in his country will be too timid to actually say a formal goodbye to the European Union, it will be because of those voters in Scotland, Northern Ireland and in some corners of Wales who dislike the English people and therefore prefer to remain within the EU, a construct where the French, Poles and Germans have far more influence than the island race which gave an international link language to the globe at the price of subjugating most of it at one time or the other.
Certainly David Cameron would have sought from Narendra Modi a similar affirmation as Obama’s of the alleged indispensability of remaining within the EU to the UK. It is to the credit of Modi that he has clearly resisted such an endorsement, which, incidentally, would have had substantial weight, considering that despite Mulayam Singh and Lalu Yadav, it is India that has almost as many English-language speakers as the US, and indeed much more than found in the UK. The most US-friendly individuals in the UK are those who are passionate about the need for Britain to croon a formal farewell to the EU, and these have responded not by developing hostility towards the US but by expressing a contempt for Barack Obama that is new. In the case of India as well, it is those in favour of a 21st century Anglosphere (with India, the US and the UK at the core) that are the most respectful of India and votaries of closer ties with it than presently permitted by EU regulations. Modi’s neutrality on Brexit has, therefore, served the interests of India in a manner which the emotional embrace of the Cameron position by the US President has not. Should Brexit be the alternative preferred by UK voters, India needs to ensure that it takes advantage of the closer ties that London will seek from Delhi, by achieving synergy with sunrise sectors in the UK in the same way as US companies and agencies have. Brexit may be bad news for the EU bureaucracy, but it will be glad tidings for Britain and its (non-EU) friends within the international order.