United Kingdom’s Post-Brexit Strategic Partnership with India – Can UK forge a fresh relationship with India

Rajesh Trichur Venkiteswaran

he Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi considered UK as the entry point for the Indians to the European Union in 2015.

He in his statement said, “As far as India is concerned, if there is an entry point for us to the European Union (EU), that is the UK, that is Great Britain,”

Two years and the after-effect of Brexit still uncertain, Germany has entered to fill the void as the India’s access to the EU. But since then India-UK partnership seems to be stronger than ever.


When Prime Minister Theresa May visited India in 2016, she communicated to the Journalists that the visit matters now more than ever as India is the fastest-growing major economy. “Key strategic Partner” is the term that she used to refer to India in the aftermath of Britain voting to leave the European Union.

At a dinner held to mark 70 years of Indian independence on 15 August 2017, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “We in the UK are the beneficiaries of reverse colonialism.”

He also said that the UK was supporting India not only to bring peace and stability to the Asia Pacific region but also issuing more visas to Indians than any other country in the world, apart from China.

In November 2017, when India’s Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after 11 rounds of impasse with Britain’s Candidate Christopher Greenwood, British spokesperson said that they will cooperate with India in the ICJ and the failure of Britain’s candidate will not affect the relationship.

Post Brexit, UK-India ties grew smoothly in 2017 and is extending to 2018.Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited by the Prime Minister Theresa May and he visited the UK on 18 April 2018 forging a new partnership.

A clutch of agreements were signed including the bilateral trade and a fast track arrangement to expedite investments from Indian business men in UK.

The Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF), a joint initiative by the Governments of India and the UK under India’s flagship National Investment and Infrastructure Fund is likely to increase the output in the renewable energy sector in India.

The Fund will invest in renewable energy, clean transportation, water and waste management in India as part of India’s flagship National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF). UK and India contributions are investments that will generate returns for each country.

The collaborations went one step further, UK joining the International Solar Alliance (ISA) which was established by India and became the 62nd signatory member country, committing to finance cutting edge solar technologies.

.India also recognized the role of London School of Economics as a financial institution which could help to achieve the investment targets for the ISA.

Other initiatives like the bilateral research alliance to give importance to low cost cancer treatment, smart agriculture for improving the lives of small and marginal farmers and sustainable Earth Initiative for human development will solidify the partnership between India and the UK.

According to a report by the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, there is a disparity between the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and population of India which restricts the bargaining power. But India is expected to be the major growth engine in Asia for the next decade. This makes the country an important strategic partner for Europe.

The report further signals that India’s strengths lie in agriculture and industrial sectors. In contrast the Europe’s strength is manufacturing and so there is high scope for comparative trade agreements. But in order to make Free Trade Agreements (FTA) a success, both India and Europe will have to make compromises.

The report also considers stumbling blocks like travel restriction for Indian Professionals, EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, and Intellectual Property Rights, etc which hinders India and EU from having an FTA.

If these difficult topics are negotiated and compromises made, the trade between EU and India will double, the report says.

According to the Daily Telegraph Britain will be able to increase its exports to India by more than two billion pounds per year after leaving EU. UK currently faces tariffs with India because of the EU’s failure to forge an FTA.

A British council report suggested that there was a “growing disconnect between the UK and India”, and that a “growing sense of frustration” has grown in India as some feel that a “colonial mindset still lingers with some people in the UK, as at times it appears that India is still not perceived or treated as an equal.”

The year 2019 will be crucial to Britain. Deepening India-UK ties is the need of the hour and FTA will bring prospects to both countries.