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UK PM Keir Starmer is committed to 'new strategic partnership' with India

UK PM Keir Starmer is committed to 'new strategic partnership' with India

Britain has a new Prime Minister in Sir Keir Starmer, who led his Labour Party to a landslide victory in the UK General Election this week, making his way into 10 Downing Street after 14 years in Opposition.

Sir Keir has made a manifesto commitment to work towards a “new strategic partnership” with India, including clinching a free trade agreement (FTA) – currently stuck in stalled negotiations during the elections in both countries.

“Labour will build and strengthen modern partnerships with allies and regional powers. We will seek a new strategic partnership with India, including a free trade agreement, as well as deepening cooperation in areas like security, education, technology and climate change,” reads the Labour manifesto.

During India Global Forum (IGF) in London last week, the party’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said that he plans to be in India by the end of this month itself to get things moving on the FTA.

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He said: “Many Diwalis have come and gone now without a trade deal and too many businesses have been left waiting. My message to Minister Sitharaman and Minister Goyal is that Labour is ready to go. Let’s finally get our free trade deal done!” 

Sir Keir himself had addressed IGF London last year, when he made the most significant intervention to set the pace for UK-India relations and reset strained relations with the Indian diaspora communities under former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“I do think we need to look forward, not backward and do think that from time-to-time resetting is the right approach,” he said at the time.

“I have a clear message for you all today: this is a changed Labour Party. Across the board, we’ve embraced the power of enterprise… and this means that we see the Indian community for the success story they are in 21st century Britain,” he said.

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Now, as he steps into 10 Downing Street with his list of priorities piled up high, it remains to be seen how he approaches this important bilateral relationship.

“The swift conclusion of the FTA will be a litmus test of the commitment of both governments to strengthen relations,” believes IGF Founder Manoj Ladwa

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