5 Jul 2024

UK: How Keir Starmer's Win will Impact India

London: Labour Party chief Keir Starmer is poised to replace Rishi Sunak as the Prime Minister of Britain, with early election results indicating a significant defeat for the Conservatives. The first month of Starmer’s premiership is expected to be marked by a flurry of international diplomacy, including meetings with US President Joe Biden and various European leaders.

After being out of power since 2010, Labour has promised a foreign policy of "progressive realism," acknowledging the world's volatility. David Lammy, who is anticipated to become the Foreign Secretary, stated that Labour views the world "as it is, not as we would want it to be." The party also intends to "make Brexit work" by seeking an "ambitious" security pact with the European Union.

Strengthening UK-India relations

A crucial component of Starmer's foreign policy agenda will be strengthening UK-India relations. Recognizing historical missteps, particularly Labour's past stance on issues like Kashmir, Starmer has committed to forging a new strategic partnership with India. His emphasis on a free trade agreement (FTA) and enhanced bilateral cooperation in technology, security, education, and climate change highlights his ambition to elevate relations with one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

Focus on the trade agreement with India

Starmer's manifesto includes a pledge to pursue this "new strategic partnership" with India, with a specific focus on the trade agreement. His efforts to repair strained ties with the Indian diaspora in the UK have been evident during his campaign, where he denounced Hinduphobia and celebrated cultural festivals like Diwali and Holi. These gestures aim to foster greater trust and inclusion within British-Indian communities, a demographic crucial to Labour's electoral strategy.


However, challenges remain on the path to realizing Starmer's ambitious foreign policy goals, especially regarding immigration policies and trade agreements. With a bipartisan consensus on the need to reduce immigration, negotiations on temporary visas for Indian workers in the UK service industry present a delicate balancing act for Labour.

Despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's last-minute attempts to sway voters, the Conservatives' warnings that opting for Labour would lead to higher taxes seem to have been insufficient. Starmer's commitment to revitalizing UK-India relations, combined with his broader foreign policy strategies, suggests a significant shift in Britain's international posture under his leadership.

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