Labour Party leaders head to India in pre-election outreach

Labour Party leaders head to India in pre-election outreach

A series of Opposition Labour Party leaders have recently made high-profile visits to India, most recently Shadow Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner who met Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue.

While in New Delhi, Rayner reiterated her party’s support for a UK-India free trade agreement (FTA) which is undergoing its fourteenth round of negotiations and with a looming election deadline on both sides.

“I want to see the trade agreement go forward so that we can build that cooperation and work together so that both India and the UK can prosper and continue to grow their economies, and to make sure that everybody can see the benefit of that growth together,” said Rayner.

On her India visit last week, Rayner was joined by Stockport MP and Chair of the Labour Convention of Indian Organisations (LCIO) Navendu Mishra. The duo also called upon Indian Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar for an interaction around bilateral relations and diaspora ties.

The visit last week came close on the heels of a trade visit by shadow foreign secretary David Lammy and shadow business and trade secretary Jonathan Reynolds to discuss the UK-India trade talks and to interact with counterparts on the Indian side.

Reflecting upon the visit earlier this month, Reynolds said: “India is the fifth largest economy in the world and an important trading partner for the UK. However, despite India being one of the biggest investors in the UK it has historically been a high tariff economy, with limited access for foreign providers of services, for example Scottish Whiskey is famously subject to a 150 per cent tariff. A UK-India trade deal is therefore potentially something that could be of significant benefit to the UK.


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“With both a UK and an Indian general election taking place this year, there is a feeling if the deal is not done in the next month it will be delayed into the next Parliament. As well as the trade deal, the UK and India obviously have a shared history and over 1.5 million Britons are of Indian heritage. It was therefore extremely interesting to hold meetings and visits in New Delhi and Mumbai. We had excellent meetings with the Indian Foreign, Trade and Transport Ministers, as well as visiting the Indian Stock Exchange, Parliament and the famous Maidan public cricket pitches.”

With a general election scheduled for this year, expected earlier in India and later in the UK, the Opposition is making a clear pitch not only for the British Indian diaspora vote but also for building on ties with a close ally like India.

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