Post-Brexit British Foreign Policy Towards India: Moving Towards Fulfilling ‘Global Britain’ Aspirations
In a post-Brexit world characterised by the UK’s ‘Global Britain’ aspirations, a strong UK-India economic relationship is becoming a British foreign policy priority. It is in this context that several developments in recent years, from the JETCO meeting of 2019 to the February 2021 visit of International Trade Secretary Elizabeth Truss, have all worked towards the goal of achieving a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and strengthening the UK’s economic relationship with India. As it traces these developments, this paper argues that the strategic and geopolitical priorities of the UK and India play a significant role in determining the future trajectory of this economic relationship. This stems from the fact that, for India, its geopolitical and strategic interests are the central priority. Therefore, the UK’s stance on China and the Indo-Pacific, for example, have the potential to act as roadblocks to British foreign policy priorities. These factors, combined with others such as Indian concerns towards visa policies, protests outside the Indian High Commission in London, and the colonial legacy, are thus important considerations as the two countries move towards a stronger economic relationship. Similarly, India’s complicated business environment has been seen as a restricting factor by the UK. While all of this could potentially pose challenges for post-Brexit British foreign policy goals, the paper argues that recent UK moves, such as its shifting tilt towards the Indo-Pacific, its growing focus on the strategic relationship and collaboration in areas such as healthcare and global governance, seem to be working to alter the current situation. These steps seem to be pushing the UK-India relationship in the right direction, in line with the UK’s ‘Global Britain’ aspirations.
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