Defence and trade, topic of discussion between Johnson and Modi

LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – Boris Johnson met with Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, to discuss defence, energy, and trade relations.

Mr Johnson stated that he hoped for a post-Brexit free trade agreement to be reached by Diwali in October.

The PM, on the other hand, is facing growing concerns about his leadership and the lockdown parties in No. 10.

MPs approved an investigation into whether he lied to Parliament about the issue on Thursday.

After facing opposition from inside its own party, the government attempted to postpone the vote by MPs.

The Prime Minister is now facing an investigation by the Commons Privileges Committee, which will begin once the Metropolitan Police have completed their own investigation into the matter.

Mr Johnson was penalised last week for breaking Covid restrictions at a Downing Street event. He had earlier told MPs that laws were not broken in No 10, prompting opposition parties to accuse him of deceiving them.

Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative MP who has previously criticised the PM, told the BBC that a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson is a matter of “when, not if.”

The chair of the Defence Committee also dismissed arguments by the prime minister’s friends that the PM’s leadership should not be questioned while the war in Ukraine continues, claiming that the issue is being used as a “fig-leaf.”

Mr Johnson’s meeting with Mr Modi in India’s capital took place on the last day of his two-day visit to the country, which had been postponed by Covid.

Downing Street said ahead of their meeting that the UK would simplify its licence regulations for supplying military hardware to India.

Mr Johnson stated that the UK would assist India in the development of fighter jets in an effort to limit the amount of weapons purchased from Russia.

No. 10 also stated that the two countries’ security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, which includes the Indian Ocean, would be enhanced.

In addition, as part of the UK’s renewable energy goals, there was a pledge to accelerate research towards lowering the cost of “green” hydrogen power.

The two leaders also reviewed the latest developments in the UK-India trade discussions, with Mr Johnson setting an autumn deadline for a deal to be reached.

Position on the Ukraine conflict

During his tour, Mr Johnson promised to bring up the subject of India’s relations with Russia.

The UK has been attempting to persuade India, and other Western countries, to abandon its neutral stance and join in denouncing Moscow, which is India’s largest arms supplier.

India, in its strongest statement since Russia invaded Ukraine, denounced killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha earlier this month. It did not, however, blame Russia for the violence, and it has not criticised Russia directly since the invasion in February.

On Thursday, Mr Johnson admitted that India, which has close links to Russia, was “not in the same place” as the UK in terms of the dispute.

He did, however, tell reporters that there was still a vast amount that could be worked on together.

Collaboration with India on matters including security and climate change was of vital importance, Mr Johnson said ahead of his meeting with Mr Modi.

Autocratic nations that strive to undermine democracy, cut off free and fair commerce, and trample on sovereignty pose a growing threat to the world, he warned.

In these turbulent seas, the UK’s connection with India was a beacon, he added.

Eleni Kyriakou

Eleni is a journalist and analyst at Parliament Magazine focusing on European News and current affairs. She worked as Press and Communication Office – Greek Embassy in Lisbon and Quattro Books Publications, Canada. She is Multilingual with a good grip of cultures, eye in detail, communicative, effective. She holds Master in degree from York University.