In major faux pas, UK PM Boris Johnson says farm stir is India-Pak issue
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday was asked about the farmers’ agitation in India in the House of Commons, and apparently incorrectly viewing the issue as one between India and Pakistan, told the House of Commons that it is a matter for the two governments to settle.
Johnson was asked during Prime Minister’s Question Time by Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi if he could convey anxieties in the UK about images of police action against the protesting farmers in and around New Delhi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Dhesi said: “Many constituents, especially those emanating from the Punjab and other parts of India, and I were horrified to see footage of water cannons, teargas and brute force being used against peacefully protesting farmers.”
“However, it was heart-warming to see those very farmers feeding those forces who had been ordered to beat or suppress them…what indomitable spirit…it takes a special kind of people to do that”.
“So will the prime minister convey to the Indian prime minister our heart-felt anxieties, our hopes for a speedy resolution to the current deadlock, and does he agree that everyone has the fundamental right to peaceful protest”, he asked.
Johnson responded: “Of course, Mr Speaker, and our views as the honourable gentleman knows well, of course, we have serious concerns about what is happening between India and Pakistan but these are pre-eminently matters for those two governments to settle and I know that he appreciates that point”.
The exchange came days after the Foreign Office refused to comment on the farmers’ agitation, when its spokesperson said: “The police handling of protests are a matter for the Government of India.”
Dhesi later tweeted: “The world is watching, issue is a huge one with hundreds of thousands protesting globally (including in London, reported on by BBC) and the usual Boris Johnson bluff and bluster heaps further embarrassment onto our nation. Absolutely clueless! So disappointed with his response...But it might help if our PM actually knew what he was talking about!”
Dhesi last week coordinated a letter signed by 36 MPs from various parties to foreign secretary Dominic Raab, asking him to raise the farmers’ issue with the Indian government. A protest demonstration was held outside the Indian high commission in Aldwych on Sunday.