British Lawmakers Conduct Inquiry Into Relations With India, Amid Brexit

The committee will look for opportunities for greater cooperation with India post Brexit. (Reuters)


British MPs are conducting an inquiry into the UK’s relations with India to enhance trade and explore the implications of the UK’s visa policy on bilateral relations amidst India’s growing role in international geopolitics and its increasing importance as an economic powerhouse.

The ‘Global Britain and India’ inquiry by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FASC) was launched on July 20 as part of a wider Global Britain series in the context of Brexit. It is inviting written submissions to establish what more needs to be done to strengthen ties as the UK prepares to leave the European Union (EU) on March 29, 2019.

“The committee will be looking at our relationship and considering the opportunities for greater cooperation,” said FASC chair Tom Tugendhat.

“India is half of the Commonwealth and a fifth of the world. Its importance as an economic power is growing. As a democratic partner it has never been more important. How we work with India will be key to our place in the world in coming decades,” the Conservative party MP added.

As part of its evidence to an earlier part of the Global Britain inquiry, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said: “The UK’s enduring relationship with India is…central to our aspirations. India is an economic powerhouse, with a growing role in Asian and international geopolitics.

“A shared past and strong people-to-people links give us influence and access, helping us to tackle security threats, encourage stability, and exploit prosperity opportunities.”

While much of the discussion of relations with India in the context of Global Britain has tended to emphasise trade, the committee said it is interested in exploring the full range of issues affecting the relationship between the UK and India, including regional security and counter-terrorism, technology and innovation, and the role of multilateral institutions.

The purpose of the new inquiry, which has a September 3 deadline for submissions from “interested parties”, is to take stock of the UK’s relationship with India, and to examine the relationship as an important “test case of the Global Britain strategy”.

“The inquiry will also be an opportunity to consider a number of cross-cutting issues, such as the relationship between trade and broader strategic relationships, and the implications of the UK’s visa policy in a foreign policy context,” the committee said.

The FASC has issued a series of questions as a guide to subjects they plan to explore, including: How strong is the UK-India relationship at present?; What are India’s perceptions of the Global Britain strategy?; What impact does the UK’s visa regime have on our relationship with India?; and How should relations between the UK and India be managed in the run-up to and after Brexit?

The inquiry will also evaluate the effectiveness of the FCO and other parts of the UK government in building “effective relations with India and capitalising on shared objectives and values” and the British government’s approach to “leveraging soft power” in the relationship between the UK and India. 

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