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U.K Elections: Impact on India – The wrong path taken

The British Prime Minister Theresa May has lost her muscle by having elections 3 years before time giving the power to rival Jeremy Corbyn to prove his dominance. The general elections have restored the labour party as an electoral force which has disabled May’s authority.

May in is no hurry to resign and is trying to form a minority government with the help of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party(DUP). Seeking confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP – a looser arrangement than a formal coalition, which would lead to the Northern Irish party backing the Conservatives. She has taken a wrong call by thinking that a snap election will strengthen her conservative party numbers giving a boost in U.k’s exit from the European Union. Instead, she lost all her majority in parliament two weeks before Brexit negotiations could take place. The Conservatives are still the largest party with 318 seats which is 8 short of the majority. Many backbenchers have blamed May for the party’s poor performance at the polls, one senior Conservative said she would have to give a “barnstorming” performance at the meeting of the party’s 1922 committee of MPs to hold on to her job.

The prime minister is expected to signal to her parliamentary colleagues that she will run her government in a more collegiate, less controlling way, after sacrificing her two closest advisers, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy. If she survives, May is likely to have to ditch the controversial manifesto policies in order to secure the backing of the House of Commons and present a stripped-down programme for government, focusing on implementing Brexit and avoiding potential flashpoints.

The election saw a high turnout of people, unlike last time where some people didn’t even come to vote. Looks like these people took revenge. These are the people who were hard hit by Brexit and are living their worst nightmare. This is the reason why May looks forward towards a lenient Brexit.

Membership of single market and customs union which was ruled out is back in agenda. She wanted to marginalize the parliament in the Brexit process, but such did not happen where the parliament has blocked the single market and customs union.The game played here is between hard and soft Brexit. Although May has failed to implement hard Brexit, so her MP’s want a softer Brexit which would curve the mind of the people.

The European Union wants Britain to have a sturdy government and move on from the topic of Brexit which seems to be not happening. If the country starts elections on a fresh note then the 2019 deadline by the EU will have to be moved forward. This would only cause stress among the people. Presently there is no government to talk the EU causing a threat for having “no deal” between the two. With no other road to take, Britain would have to resort to world trade organization tariffs.

For the first time, there are 12 Indians as MP”s that have made to the parliament out of which two are first-timers. International development secretary Priti Patel has retained her seat, whereas Agra-born Alok Sharma 49, former minister for Asia-Pacific has clung to reading West winning a tight race with the labour party. Also, Rishi Sunak (37) co-founder R Narayan Murthy has won in Yorkshire with a very big margin.

Most Incredible is of four MP”s hailing from Jalandhar becoming a part of the British parliament. Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi became the first Turbaned Sikh to enter the parliament followed by Preet Kaur Gill becoming the first woman to do so, all from the labour party.

U.K is under confusion and so is India. It has hastened New Delhi’s imperative to separate its Europe policy from its U.K policy. India will be watching closely because it will affect the close relation with U.K post-Brexit. May has made an effort to engage India and British relations. But not in a way David Cameron did. We would still want Theresa May rather than Jeremy Corbyn as the prime minister of UK. As he had once said about India’s Kashmir dispute with Pakistan needs to be solved mutually or in accordance with people of Kashmir. Here India would never want a third party to intrude into its internal matters.

Plunging a hard Brexit would put Indian’s and Europeans on a bad playing field as far as entry into the UK is concerned. Other concerns are with economics and trade with India and thus cannot actually sign a FTA with the UK until the Brexit terms are clear. However, India has launched an audit on the trade issues with the UK which is an internal exercise.

Many pro-Brexit MPs are supporting May, fearing an alternative leader might take a less robust approach when divorce talks with the other 27 EU states begin.

Cameron visited India three times as a Prime Minister and invited Modi to the UK, who addressed 60,000 Indians at Wembley Stadium, London, during his November 2015 visit. What was significant was PM Cameron’s closeness with PM Modi—a bond that seemed unbreakable and unparalleled. But the same is not felt with May. Ironically, what actually started was a sort of a ‘one-way’ relationship where Britain expected better defense deals and stronger bilateral ties with India, and nobody addressed the Tiger in the room—the subject of “immigration”.

The Labour party, on the other hand, has sought to focus on comments by Prime Minister Theresa May in Philadelphia earlier this year when she pointed to the rise of China and India, and fears of the eclipse of the West.

On one hand, a hard Brexit, and a clean break from the EU is making trade relations with India and other fast-growing countries more important for Britain, but it has also lessened India’s interest in closer ties with Britain, given its former role as “Gateway to Europe”.

While there may be differences between the parties, India is confident its relations with U.K. We have worked with both parties and have always had good relations with both says Dinesh Patnaik, the Deputy High Commissioner for India. Both the parties cannot do without India.

Tories from Cameron’s time have been harping on reducing immigration by hundreds and thousands. When Theresa May was the Home Secretary in Cameron’s cabinet, she ensured that foreign students should get added to the final figure of immigration. She also shut down the post-study work (PSW) visa arrangement, that allowed foreign students including Indians to live in the UK, two years after their degree finished, to gain relevant work experience. So as it stands, if Indians have to work in the UK now, either they have to qualify for graduate scheme when they finish their degree, or they have to be offered a job by a company that has a sponsor license to recruit foreigners, as well as willing to pay £2,000 per candidate to the Home Office. The candidate also cannot be earning less than the minimum requirement by the Home Office, more if they wished to bring their dependents over to the UK.

When Theresa May visited India in November 2016, besides announcing the UK-India Year of Culture, immigration was indeed a point of discussion. May did not change her stance, and even in the Tory manifesto, it was very clear that she remained firm on her decision to reduce immigration by hundreds and thousands—including that from India. It seems that Indians would not be welcomed to the UK like before, unless they are extremely rich, are sought after for talents or with businesses willing to invest.

May’s decisions also affected the case of Adult Dependent Relatives (ADR), where Indians settled in the UK, in given circumstances, hoped to bring over their elderly parents to live with them. Refused on a number of grounds, it proved that vulnerable and lonely parents could not join their children for more than six months (as tourists)—may how strong their children’s financial status is. There are so many well-to-do Indians living in the UK, who earn almost £200,000 per annum. They are more than capable of supporting their elderly parents living with them and pay higher taxes in the UK. This government is trying to divide the society.

May is still the better choice for 800-odd Indian companies that have established their businesses in the UK not only to tap its large and prosperous market but also to serve as a bridgehead to the economic colossus that lies across the English Channel.

Akash Sur

A few selected minds are gifted with a dream of writing and only a few words can describe their whole world. A writer by the day and a philosopher by the night. I believe that tactfulness and fearless approach is a writer USP. An aspiring journalist, foodie and an automobile enthusiast.

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