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India talks Brexit with party supporting PM May

Britain has been keen to forge a free trade agreement with India after losing access to the European market after Brexit.

world Updated: Nov 19, 2017 22:15 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
India and Brexit,high commissioner Dinesh Patnaik,Democratic Unionist Party
India’s acting high commissioner Dinesh Patnaik addressing Indian community and other local leaders at a lunch reception in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Saturday.(HT Photo)

The contentious issue of Britain leaving the European Union was among key topics discussed between representatives of the Democratic Unionist Party, which is supporting the government of Prime Minister Theresa May, and senior Indian diplomats in Belfast.

DUP representatives Edwin Poots and Jonathan Buckley met acting Indian high commissioner Dinesh Patnaik over the weekend and sought India’s views on Brexit. Britain has been keen to forge a free trade agreement with India after losing access to the European market after Brexit.

The Indian high commission’s focus has mostly been on England, Scotland and Wales, where the vast majority of the 1.5 million-strong Indian community is based in the United Kingdom.

For the first time, it held a community event in Northern Ireland, which is home to nearly 8,000 Indians, mostly employed in the National Health Service, Indian IT companies based there and universities. The region and its future is central to ongoing talks related to Brexit.

Unlike elsewhere in the country, there are no Indian-origin MPs or representatives in locally elected bodies in Northern Ireland.

High commission sources said its outreach in Northern Ireland included celebrations of 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh in the Indian Community Centre in Belfast, a seminar on the life and teaching of the tenth Sikh guru and a photo-exhibition on Sikhism curated with support of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Patnaik spoke about Guru Gobind Singh's contribution in promoting national unity and equality, and the ‘Panj Piaras’ who were chosen from different regions, different castes and different professions, and lauded the contribution of the small Indian community to Northern Ireland.

The event was attended by a large number of Indians based in Belfast and Londonderry, and included community leaders such as Diljit Rana, India’s consul-general, and Satyavir Singhal, chairman of the Indian Community Centre.

First Published: Nov 19, 2017 22:14 IST