The FAC’s remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the FCO. This inquiry is not just about trade, it wants to improve the relationship with India regarding visas, migration, technology and innovation.

 

In the context of BRICS, Brexit, Donald Trump’s trade war with China and India’s strategic leadership for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, this week, Tom Tugendhat, MP and Chair of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), announced a new inquiry, “Global Britain and India”. Seventy years on from Independence and with India’s increasing significance in international economics and geopolitics, why not “Global Britain and Global India”?

Tugendhat has a more interesting biography than many MPs. An Arabic speaker with a Masters’ degree in “Islamics”; pre-2016 referendum, Tugendhat was a Remainer, presently he is a Russophobe. Before serving as a Territorial Army officer, he was a conflict journalist in Beirut, then established a PR company in Yemen. In 2003, he served in Iraq and Afghanistan as an intelligence officer with the Royal Marines; he assisted in establishing the Armed Forces Muslim Association, most recently he was military assistant to General David Richards, Chief of Defence Staff. Afterwards Tugendhat went to the City as an energy analyst, but was asked by the government to help with the economic reconstruction effort in Iraq, distributing the new Iraqi dinar around the Baghdad central region. Tugendhat has worked with protocols in Morocco and latterly on a project with the Afghan National Security Council (ANSC), also coordinating strategic advice for an office of former President Hamid Karzai. After a member of the ANSC was named governor of Helmand province, Tugendhat was appointed his advisor and together they established the first non-warlord administration in Helmand since the Soviet invasion. During a talk in May at RUSI (Royal United Services Institute), Tugendhat spoke up for the nation state and how to build on the rules-based international order. He recognised that India has a legitimate claim to greater influence. This week, with reference to ISIS terrorists Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who were stripped of their British citizenship and will be tried in the United States (facing possible capital punishment if found guilty), Tugendhat urged Theresa May to update UK’s treason laws. He said the 1351 legislation needed updating, in line with other countries. Tugendhat is considered by some as an option for the next Tory leader.

Unlike the Prime Minister, it seems Tugendhat has his strategic eye and intellect on the far horizon. He said, “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 Committee will be looking at our relationship and considering the opportunities for greater cooperation.”

The FAC’s remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the FCO. Members consist of 11 cross-party MPs. This inquiry is not just about trade, it wants to improve the relationship with India regarding visas, migration, technology and innovation, investment, regional security, counter-terrorism and the role of multilateral institutions. The FAC invites submissions on the following:

* What is the UK’s foreign policy towards India? How strong is the UK-India relationship at present? What are India’s perceptions of the Global Britain strategy?

* What is the Government’s approach to leveraging soft power in the relationship between the UK and India?

* What should be the main objectives for the UK’s future relationship with India? What should be the appropriate balance between political, strategic and trade issues in setting objectives for the UK-India relationship? What happens when UK and Indian objectives and values differ significantly?

* In which areas can the UK and India work effectively towards shared objectives within multilateral settings, such as in the UN and the G20? And where do their objectives, values and interests differ significantly?

* How effective are the FCO and other parts of Government in building effective relations with India and capitalising on shared objectives and values?

* How should relations between the UK and India be managed in the run-up to and after Brexit? Are the FCO and other parts of Government preparing effectively? How will the relationship between India, the UK and the EU be managed?

* What impact does the UK’s visa regime have on our relationship with India? Does it help facilitate the type of relationship the Government seeks with India?

* What are the implications of the Government’s “All of Asia” policy for the UK’s relations with India?

Submissions must be received by 3 September.

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