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UK: Amid Domestic Challenges, Starmer Outreach To India Expected

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British prime minister-elect Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria Starmer react as they greet Labour campaigners and activists at Number 10 Downing Street, following the results of the election, in London, REUTERS/Toby Melville TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

“British prime minister-elect Keir Starmer delivered a triumphant speech after it became clear that the Labour Party would surpass the requisite 326 of the 650-seat Parliament to form the next government.

Indeed, indicators for a thumping Labour victory were already on the horizon, with most exit polls predicting the party was on course to secure 400 seats while the Conservatives would plummet to their lowest-ever tally.

Subsequently, the Prime Minister-elect will head to Buckingham Palace where King Charles will formally ask him to form the government. Meanwhile, Sunak also visited Buckingham Palace earlier, albeit for very different reasons: to formally declare his loss. Notably, Palace officials say the meeting only lasted 20 minutes.

Consequently, Sunak’s defeat ensures the Conservative government, which has been in power for 14 years, will now sit in the Opposition.

India relationship key for Starmer

While Starmer undoubtedly faces significant challenges, ranging from immigration to the economy, how to Trump-proof the UK, should the former president come to power, and secure Britain’s relationship with Europe; nonetheless, the India relationship remains key for him.

To this end, Starmer pushed a record number of British-Indian Labour MPs into the electoral fray and made statements like “there is no space for Hinduphobia in Britain,” thus winning hearts and avoiding unpleasant surprises for Labour as occurred in the 2019 elections.

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Furthermore, Starmer’s temple hopping represents a marked change in approach to India from his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn. Moreover, his commitment to addressing hate crimes has been noted by British-Indian communities and may have positive implications for India-UK relations.

Labour government could boost India-UK ties

In light of these developments, analysts suggest that having a Labour government at the helm comes at an opportune moment for British-Indian relations. For instance, Antoine Levesques, a research fellow at the IISS, posits that Labour’s decision to reset its India relationship can lead to significant opportunities for both nations in various areas.

UK foreign secretary to visit India

In addition, Levesques predicted that the next UK Foreign Secretary will likely visit India within a month of appointment. During this visit, he anticipates that maritime security, broad areas of strategic convergence, and a Free Trade Agreement will likely top the agenda.

“The UK will be keen to continue holding India’s attention on a renewed shared, realistic interest basis and with a view to growing the UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership above and beyond the 2021 Roadmap they set for themselves to 2030.”

“Under Modi 3.0, India is looking at 2047 now, the UK knows this and will want, early on, to find ways to extend the time horizon and depth of the relationship with India. Right-sizing mutual political, official, business expectations will be key to the next strategic stage of UK-India ties, as will focusing on what matters, while discarding the noise of what does not.”