Former Tory London Deputy chairman explains why he’s joined Lib Dems to fight Brexit

Last week, Vince Cable welcomed Kishan Devani, former Tory Deputy Chairman of the London Conservative Party, to the Liberal Democrats. Mr Devani stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives in 2015 and in the London Assembly elections in 2016.

Brexit was a key motivator for Mr Devani’s decision as he explains in an article for Asian Lite International.

This lurch to the right began to be visible to me during the EU Referendum campaign. Having been instrumental in setting up ‘British Indians for In’ with the now Housing Minister Alok Sharma MP, I travelled up and down the country talking to the British Indian Community about the benefits of remaining in the EU. Currently the only political leader and party outlining the inconcistences in the Brexit argument are the Liberal Democrats & Sir Vince Cable – everyone else seems to have vanished & with them their ‘remain’ arguments too.

But not the only one…

Although there is still much to be done for all members of the BAME community to feel they belong in the democratic process of our wonderful and great country, in a post Brexit UK we must look to unite communities and promote the idea of unity in diversity. Unfortunately the current trajectory is one of being divisive, segregating communities and isolating people. This is why it would be morally wrong of myself as the son of refugees to stand by and watch silently.

After much deliberation I came to the conclusion social justice, equality and positive race relations are at the heart of my rationale and currently there is only one party that is looking to try and promote such an agenda and that is the Liberal Democrat Party.

Welcome to Kishan and to any other new members. If he or any others wants to know more about the party, here’s the Lib Dem Lowdown. 

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

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15 Comments

  • Welcome Kishan,

    we could do with some support in Hounslow and Ealing in reaching out to the Indian community. While the BAME community nationwide generally voted remain, it appears that in Ealing and Hounslow, west London boroughs with many voters of Asian origin, the ethnic correlation was in the other direction to the national picture: a higher number of Asian voters was associated with a higher Leave vote http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38762034

    Osterley and Spring Grove in Hounslow, west London, an affluent mainly ethnic minority ward had a Leave vote of 63%. This outcome was quite a surprise to those of us campaigning on the ground for remain. The primary reason appears to have been concerned with a widespread perception among the Asian community that immigration from the Indian sub-continent was being clamped down on as consequence of large numbers of migrants coming in from the EU; putting family and friends of the Asian community at a disadvantage compared with their European counterparts.

  • Mark Goodrich 20th Dec '17 - 2:32pm

    Yes Joe – that community was led down the garden path by the Brexiteers on the issue. Sadly for them, there is zero chance that reducing EU migration will be coupled with increasing migration from the Indian sub-continent.

  • Is this the same Kishan Divani who as recently as 16 August 2016 said, “I believe David Cameron has done an excellent job as Prime Minister and hence we were returned with a Majority Conservative Government in May.” ? He also said Margaret Thatcher was the biggest single influence on his political career and what a pleasure it was to work with Zac Goldsmith (just three months before the Richmond by-election).

    Source : Asian Voice, 16 August, 2016.

    Asian Voice describes him as a 31 year old Politician, Speaker, and International Business Consultant for an International Wealth Management Firm. He was also a Director of a Specialist SEN School The Woodfield School in London. He is the Lead Proposer and Founder of GATES Academy a Free School proposed to open in 2017 in London (subject to approval).

    Now go on, tell me I’m a suspicious old cynic and he didn’t really mean any of that – but surely a period of probation and due diligence ought to be involved before leaping into the press pictured with the Party Leader for very recent ‘converts’.

    Can we have a reassurance that this has been done ??

  • paul barker 20th Dec '17 - 6:14pm

    I welcome Kishan Devani as I welcome anyone who joins, people change & learn, sometimes.Lets keep the Spirit of Xmas in our hearts.

  • Speaking to my fellow BAME members. The reason many voted to leave was the Racist undertones of governments in Poland and Hungary. Many are afraid of EU migrants bringing backward attitudes to the UK such as anti-semitism, racism, islamophobia and homophobia into the UK.

  • LibDemer
    And many voted because Leave hinted that in a post Brexit Britain those in the Leave campaign would ease the immigration restrictions from non-EU countries. Fat chance.

  • Jayne mansfield 20th Dec '17 - 8:26pm

    @ manfarang,
    Fully Agree.

    And might it also be the case that being anti -further EU immigration is viewed as a sign of assimilation, an acceptance of adopted ‘British values’?

  • Actually, I seem to recall that the remain camp often insisted that lowering immigration from within the EU would increase immigration from outside of the EU.

  • Glenn
    Within the EU there is free movement of people. Some think with this stopped to the UK, the British worker would be paid more so I hardly see these people in favour of more immigration from outside the EU.

  • Manafarang,
    I don’t get what you’re trying to say. I was simply recalling that the one of the claims from some quarters of the remain camp was that immigration from outside of the EU would increase as a result of reductions from inside the EU. In fact I remember arguing with people about this on LDV. The leave group as far as I know wanted to get all immigration down to pre-2004 levels and always said so.

  • OnceALibDem 21st Dec '17 - 3:26pm

    @David Raw – in fairness the full article goes into quite a bit of depth of other areas where he could sit comfortably within the Lib Dems. A bit less of the ‘I’m anti Brexit so I can be a Liberal’ of the Bill Fowler/Rachel Johnson variety.

    But if you want to all new memberships are subject to acceptance by the enrolling party so you could raise that point with the local party/membership dept.

  • Robert (Somerset) 21st Dec '17 - 4:18pm

    I seem to remember that the British Curry House Association were keen on Brexit during the referendum, as they had been promised by the Brexiteers that there would be more visas available for workers from India and elsewhere in the region. Statements from Theresa May since then have left them feeling rather stitched up.

    That said I suspect that many in the British restaurant trade have very good connections in Indian political circles and have understandably been hitting the telephones. That might account in part for the response the Prime Minister got on her quasi trade visit to India, when she was told in no uncertain terms that any trade deal would include relaxation of Britain’s visa regime.

    Indian is after all a market of 1.2 billion while the UK is a mere 65 million!

  • Jayne mansfield 21st Dec '17 - 4:39pm

    @ Glen,
    Many in the leave camp argued that by ending free movement people from areas outside the EU would be treated more fairly.

    Nigel Farage despite UKIPs dislike for quangos, argued for the setting up of a quango called the Migration Control Commission, ‘ tasked with bringing numbers down, and focussing on highly- skilled labour and our commonwealth friends – as opposed to the low skilled eastern european migration that the Tories and Labour have expanded’.

    All very Farage.

  • Neil Sandison 21st Dec '17 - 5:06pm

    I welcome Kirshan. If he feels more comfortable in a party with clear social liberal values then i hope he will encourage others to also join .Liberal Democrats have always been good critical friends to our European partners .We have kept to a reformist agenda knowing any institution can always be improved upon.As Brexit has played out the conservatives have become more and more ideological and less and less pragmatic .

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