Brexit: Do the Mauritians in UK have a say?

Just like the main British population, many Mauritians with a standard job and status would have families with divided views on Brexit. Some with academic and/or professional occupations have voted to remain

The British-Mauritians have as much say and right to express their opinion as anyone who has voted in 2016 to either stay within EU or to exit. The British population (white, black and other ethnic minorities) including visitors to the UK and British-Mauritians have divided opinions about Brexit. Throughout history, immigration has taken place and no political party can put a stop to it, despite all the promises and attempts at reducing immigration. This had been part of the hot issue, incensed by politicians as well as media to change the minds of some of the British to vote for Brexit. There are many other reasons that led to the referendum and hence, Brexit. These include open borders, higher influx of migrants, rulings from Brussels and high cost of British taxpayers’money of £350million a week. Since the 1980s Britain decided against adopting the Euro and proudly keeping its Pound Sterling.

Most of the first generation Mauritians love Europe as they have relatives in France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece and other parts of Europe. They enjoy the freedom to travel back and forth and the connection with the larger EU freedom, as well as with the familiar French language. A large number of Mauritians are either married to European women and have child-ren and in-laws in EU. Some of the women who came from Europe in the early 1940s still have parentage links there. Many Europeans have a stronger family link compared to the English. On the other hand, many Europeans are also married to British-Mauritians and also enjoy visiting relatives in their respective countries and avail of wider social and economic advantages. As a result, many Mauritians have voted for Britain to remain in EU. Furthermore, they have businesses and also a second property in Europe.

Why the referendum?

Why did Britain suddenly decide to have a refe-rendum vote? This is quite a complex question. David Cameron was a strong campaigner to get a better deal from EU in terms of cash payment by UK. Even in his election campaign he coerced the British voters. When he was Prime Minister he tried negotiate for a better deal for UK with Brussels. This was not fully achieved; the media played a major role in causing incense, speculating about a dark future if UK were to remain part of EU. The ordinary people who are easily influenced by tabloid papers besides of their own perception had made up their minds. The dark shadows of the Exchange Rate mechanism (ERM) of the 1990s, enhanced by the Conservative Party’s doubts had their effect.

For almost a century, Britain was one of those few countries in the world which relied heavily upon foreign workers to fill in jobs in the London Underground, NHS, as school teachers, cleaners, farm workers, in factories, IT and other sectors. This is a clear link to the time of the British Empire when the UK had control of almost a third of the whole world. According to Hibbert (1998), English officers of the British Raj would have up to seven individuals to do a variety of chores for each of the them. Moving from the scar of slavery to indentured labour, Britain continued to rely on foreign labour up until the time of writing this article and this will not likely to stop. In addition, the Conservative Party was mostly anti-Europe in many of its previous election campaigns without realising the future impact. There were some hardline conservatives such as Kenneth Clarke and Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister who were pro-EU and foresaw the advantages for UK.

Some Mauritian families are also split in their decision. Some older ones are of the same opinion as the 51% who voted for Brexit, only to regret afterwards. Many of those who voted for Brexit now regret, and there are hardliners who still believe that Britain is better without EU. The majority of the Mauritians who made a quick decision to vote for Brexit now wish it could be reversed. There had been much debate and daily updates on the political, economic and strength of the Pound Sterling, travel, EU legislations for standards of goods, immigration, and education. The strength of the Pound has never been the same since the results of the referendum vote of 2016. Many trades and economies have continued to tumble and rise again slightly but only to fall back again. Just like the British whites, some of the Mauritians have the same views of anti-immigrants who started to come from Europe and possibly other countries if tough steps were not taken. However, Britain under pressure from EU took a few hundred refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries facing the refugee crisis. This could have been worse as Britain foresaw the possible entry of hundreds of thousands of Turkish immigrants as happened in Germany and other EU nations.

TThe fall of sterling after Brexit; it will probably never recover to its former strength

The Independent, May 2018

In stark contrast to the Conservatives, the Labour Party has always been pro-EU and promo-ted many bilateral businesses. The science world and many academics are also against breaking away from the EU because of ongoing science pro-jects, grants and EU funds. It is a well-known fact that since the past few decades the British population has been known for working less hard than their Asian or European counterparts. Indians, Chinese and those from many other neighbouring Asian countries have been known for decades to be highly industrious. Lately the Polish, Spanish, Italians, Albanians and other Europeans have come to UK and work as hard to save money. Why did this happen? Did the jobs get filled by eager unemployed English people in UK? Unfortunately, the reality is that the young whites prefer not to work as hard as their ancestors. These are some of the resentments by some of mainstream whites and only to be incensed by frontline politicians like Nigel Farage who have fuelled the voters’ fire that foreigners ‘take our jobs’. In reality they don’t. The jobs are available for all but many of the English people will shun jobs which involves shifts, very early in the mor-ning or with less pay.

We only have to go back to the 1990s. During the Conservative government, Britain was nicknamed the ‘Dirty Man of Europe’, until Britain had to come clean by following strict EU laws. There were also many polluted beaches around Britain and the British government took bold steps to clean them up. As a result of clearing them of sewage, debris, and other unsightly litter, many British beaches started to display the blue EU flag around the British Isles.

Sewage pollution in the sea that tough EU law get Britain to clean its act


It was thanks to the EU legislations that sewage treatment was processed on land rather than being dumped in the North Sea. Pollution with chlorofluorocarbons, water pollution, pesticides in agriculture, and pollutant emissions had to be addressed, thanks to strict EU laws. In the 1980s there were toxic sulphur dioxide gases which were the main cause of acid rain that actually destroyed thousands of lakes in Scandinavian countries. Thus the reason most scientists want to remain in EU so as to have a collaborative network.

EU citizens had enjoyed the similar rights of tra-vel without border restriction; exports/imports, migration for seasonal work, tourism and higher education were easier. As a result, just like the main British population, many Mauritians with a standard job and status would have families with divided views on Brexit. Some of them with academic and/or professional occupations have voted to remain. However, some of the first generation Mauritians had views just like some older whites to get out of EU. Many Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Middle Eastern families who had refugee status had gained EU nationality from Italy but chose to come to UK for free tertiary education. Before Britain became part of the European Union, this would not have been possible.

The picture shows the effect of Brexit which will take a long time to recover (Duin, 2017)


Many politicians did it for their own gain. David Cameron was strongly in favour of referendum and even his election campaign unlike Labour was quite anti-EU. He won the election in 2015 with EU

rhetoric and in 2016 went to the country to campaign for referendum votes. After the shocked refe-rendum results of 51% Brexit, he resigned as Prime Minister. Since then the fallout of post-Brexit had never been the same in Britain and the world. However, since July 2018, 3.8 million EU citizens still worked in the UK, many of them making a daily travel from France to UK. With the current speculation and much uncertainty many have got cold feet so that the number EU citizens in UK and UK citizens in EU keeps fluctuating.

Since the result of the referendum, there has been non-stop news in the media. Everyone knows the word but a large proportion who voted to leave had a racist attitude against immigrants as a main point, non-Whites and Mauritians included. The outcome of the Brexit will not affect the rich but the poor will suffer many disadvantages as well as hardships. A Brexit would have damaging effects on the eco-nomy in the entire EU. It would also cause severe political damage and would weaken Europe geopolitically. “We are deeply convinced that a Brexit should be avoided because it would create no winners, only losers…” (Petersen, 2015). The option for Britain with its past colonial history is that it can woo attractive deals with the large emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil and other countries in Asia, Africa, Canada and the US.

Kishore Teelanah
Science Lead and Industry Link Coordinator

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