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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

Boris Johnson promises ‘truly special India-UK relations’ if elected UK PM

Johnson, 55, and Hunt, 52, - both Oxford-educated - seek support from the Conservative Friends of India, a group within the ruling party.

india Updated: Jul 08, 2019 23:45 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
People take selfies with Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson, in Barry Island, Wales.
People take selfies with Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson, in Barry Island, Wales.(AP)
         

Both candidates to be the next Conservative leader and the UK’s Prime Minister have promised taking relations with India to a new level, with Boris Johnson on Monday making a pledge similar to the one foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt made last week.

While Hunt released a letter to Indian-origin members of the Conservative party and a video seeking their support, Johnson sent an open two-page letter, highlighting his personal links with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and promising a ‘truly special UK-India relationship’.

Johnson, 55, and Hunt, 52, - both Oxford-educated – have been addressing live televised hustings across the UK, focusing mainly on their approach to Brexit. Both seek support from the Conservative Friends of India, a group within the ruling party.

Conservative party MP Priti Patel tweeted the letter by Boris Johnson where he wrote: “When I was with Prime Minister Modi I stressed that UK and India are two modern democracies who should work closely together to promote trade and prosperity, improve global security and tackle challenges that our countries face.”

“If I am elected Conservative Party Leader and Prime Minister, I will work closely with our friends in the Indian Government, business and society to deliver a truly special UK-India relationship,” he added.

He wrote: “One of the most important reasons why we need to leave the European Union on 31st October 2019 is so that we can take back control over our trade policy. India is an economic powerhouse and set to become the third largest economy by the middle of the century, with annual economic growth far outpacing the EU”.

“The sooner we leave the EU and take back control of our trade policy, the sooner we can strike a new trade deal with India that will deliver new jobs, growth and prosperity for both our countries. Securing this new and improved trading relationship with our friends in India will be a priority for me.”

Johnson, who was married to the Indian-origin Marina Wheeler, has often spoken of forging a free trade deal with India in the post-Brexit situation. The prominent Brexiteer regrets the inability of the European Union to forge such a deal over prolonged talks.

Over 1.6 lakh Conservative members are currently voting by postal ballots for the two candidates. The result will be declared on July 23 and the next party leader will succeed Theresa May as the prime minister the next day.

The election of the Conservative leader - who will take over as the next prime minister - has been triggered by the resignation of May over intense criticism inside and outside her party on her approach to Brexit.

First Published: Jul 08, 2019 20:22 IST

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