Boris Johnson to travel to India in first visit as PM amid fresh partygate backlash

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Boris Johnson will travel to “highly valued partner” India this week to focus on bolstering trade and defence partnerships with the South Asian country.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Johnson said: “As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that democracies and friends stick together.

“India, as a major economic power and the world’s largest democracy, is a highly valued strategic partner for the UK in these uncertain times.

Mr Johnson said his forthcoming visit to India will “deliver on the things that really matter to the people of both our nations” including job creation and economic growth, energy security and defence.

The prime minister’s first visit to India since being elected in 2019 will begin in Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat, on Thursday, where he will meet with leading businesses and discuss the UK and India’s thriving commercial, trade and people links.

This will be the first time a UK prime minister has visited the state – India’s fifth largest – which is the ancestral home of around half of the British-Indian population in the UK. Mr Johnson is also expected to announce major investment in key industries in both the UK and India to boost jobs and growth at home, as well as encourage new collaboration on cutting-edge science, health and technology.

Mr Johnson will meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Friday in Delhi, where the leaders will hold in-depth talks on the UK and India’s strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership and revamping security co-operation in the Indo-Pacific region.

Mr Johnson, who is currently in the eye of a storm over fresh partygate allegations, will also use the visit to drive progress in the free trade agreement negotiations launched earlier this year. A deal with India is predicted to boost UK trade by as much as £28bn annually by 2035 and increase wages across the country by up to £3bn.

Last year, the prime ministers agreed on a UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, announcing more than £530m in investment into the UK and committing to a deeper bilateral relationship across trade, health, climate, defence and security.

The UK is leveraging post-Brexit trade opportunities with India’s growing economy to drive down prices in key commodities for consumers, open opportunities for UK businesses in areas like green tech and services, and create high-wage, high-skill jobs.

Investment from Indian companies already supports 95,000 jobs across the UK. This number is expected to increase with forthcoming announcements, including a future free trade deal.

Additional reporting by agencies

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