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Global Compass: What Will Starmer Do Now?

In a conversation with Global Compass and StratNewsGlobal, Rahul Roy-Chaudhury from London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) offers a comprehensive analysis of the recent UK elections and the challenges facing newly elected Prime Minister Keir Starmer. Following a significant victory for the Labour Party, which secured 412 seats, Roy-Chaudhury emphasises the daunting task ahead for Starmer, noting that there is no honeymoon period. Instead, immediate action is required to address pressing domestic issues such as the cost of living crisis, economic growth, trade relationships, NHS, and education.

Roy-Chaudhury discusses the Labour Party’s internal shift under Starmer, moving from Jeremy Corbyn’s left-leaning policies to a more centrist stance. This includes the crackdown on illegal immigration, a sensitive issue where the Labour government is expected to maintain a tough approach similar to the previous Conservative government’s policies. Additionally, he highlights the Labour Party’s commitment to supporting Ukraine and the need for clarity on the party’s stance regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.

On the international front, Roy-Chaudhury delves into the complexities of UK-India relations under the new Labour government. He underscores India’s importance due to its economic growth, foreign policy influence, military capabilities in the Indo-Pacific, and the significant British Indian diaspora. However, he questions the extent of this importance, pointing out uncertainties in the Labour government’s foreign policy orientation. Will the focus be on Euro-Atlantic relations, or will the Indo-Pacific region, including India, take precedence? The strategic partnership and free trade agreement between the UK and India also remain in a state of ambiguity, with potential obstacles from grassroots Labour activists.

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Roy-Chaudhury expresses cautious optimism about the progress in UK-India relations, noting that substantial developments may not occur until after the Labour Party conference in October.

The interview provides a realistic perspective on the immediate challenges for Starmer’s government and the nuanced dynamics of UK-India relations moving forward.