Britain and India agreed a “new and expanded” defence and security partnership on Friday, under-fire British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on a visit to New Delhi.
Johnson travelled to India as he faces criticism at home and the embarrassing prospect of a probe into whether he lied to parliament over the lockdown-breaking “Partygate” scandal.
India is part of the Quad grouping with the United States, Japan and Australia that is seen as a bulwark against an increasingly assertive China. But New Delhi also has a long Cold War history of cooperation with Moscow, still its biggest military supplier, and has refused to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
“The threats of autocratic coercion have grown even further,” Johnson said alongside his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, in an apparent reference to Beijing.
“And it’s therefore vital that we deepen our cooperation, including our shared interest in keeping the Indo-Pacific open and free.” The new partnership was “a decades-long commitment”, he added, hailing the relationship between “one of the oldest democracies, and India, certainly the largest democracy”.
But relations between Britain and India have long been coloured by the legacy of colonial rule — when London saw the world’s second-most populous nation as the jewel in the crown of its empire but hundreds of millions of Indians chafed under its authority. AGENCIES