Boris Johnson has vouched to work closely with the Indian government, business and society to deliver a ‘truly special UK-India relationship’.
As the UK leadership contest draws to a close with the result expected on 22 July, one thing is certain if Boris Johnson becomes the next Prime Minister, UK and India can look forward to an improved relationship.
Following Jeremy Hunt’s letter to the Conservative Friends of India, this week Boris Johnson wrote a letter addressing the same Indian Conservative Party members wherein he recognised India’s growing global power and place on the global stage. Johnson has vouched to work closely with the Indian government, business and society to deliver a “truly special UK-India relationship”. Johnson gets India, he understands India’s current frustration with UK’s visa regulations and promises an Australian style points system that does not discriminate by region. Beyond the important trade deal, Johnson respects Indian culture and faiths, he has visited many gurdwaras, temples and community hubs and admired their outreach networks. He sees India as one of UK’s most important partners, specifically to improve global security. This is good news as India and US become more aligned in security and military spheres, it provides an opportunity for a new dynamic trilateral relationship.
Recently, UK-India Prime Ministerial relations have been at low ebb. There is no apparent chemistry between Prime Minister Theresa May and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Johnson believes he has a couple of advantages: first he claims he already has a personal relationship with PM Modi and second he is a genuine Indophile, unlike PM May whose has been perceived as more of a Pakophile.
India and US are the most populous English speaking modern democracies in the world, and as an Indophile Johnson could accelerate a refreshed Anglosphere. In 2011, a professor wrote a piece in the New Criterion about India, US and UK forming the core of a 21st century Anglosphere, explaining that culture should not be perceived as a common ethnicity or geographical space, but represented by a common desire for freedom and shared values. UK and India share words and values across the worlds of finance, business, science, law, academia, education, sports and all the arts; Johnson writes in his letter he wants the relationship to run deeper than trade, the Anglospheric Union could provide the impetus.
Johnson’s leadership and delegation skills demonstrated during his time as Mayor of London, his optimism and chutzpah could put the Great back into Britain, establishing a unified cabinet to deliver Brexit by 31 October, and hopefully repair the recently damaged diplomatic relations with US and lack of engagement with India.