Britain goes to polls

Phir ek baar, Cameron Sarkar…

The British elections are over and, against all odds the Conservative Party under David Cameron has romped back to power with an absolute majority. Ironically, this was supposed to be the closest election in British history. Far from that! What is the lesson from the election mandate and what does it mean for Indo-British relations?

When the going is good…

That was the first lesson from the election mandate. Britain and the US have been two economies which have managed to perform well despite a global downturn. The trickle-down effect is already visible in Britain. Cameron, who promised gradual growth and improvement in economic conditions, rang the right bell. After the worst economic crisis in history, the British public was hardly interested in the churn and chaos that the Labor Party promised. The outcome said it all.

Not two-party any longer…

Well that is not a new trend, but got reinforced in the current election. Unlike the previous election, the Liberal Democrats were virtually wiped. Going by the performance of the Scottish National Party, it looks like the referendum on Scottish independence may not be too far off. The combined vote share of the Liberal democrats, UKIP and the SNP is sizable. 2015 may have been an exception, but going ahead, Britain may be entering an era of coalitions. What happened in 2010 may be an indication of a larger trend.

UK and the European Union…

The UK is not part of the common currency (Euro), but it is still a part of the European Union (EU). Cameron had promised a referendum on the UK’s continued membership in the EU. Quite interestingly, the SNP is in favor of EU membership. This means that Cameron may also permit the Scottish referendum, sooner rather than later. The EU on the other hand, will hope that the UK stays on in the EU. Not only for the size of the economy and the London market, but also because the UK wields enormous clout with the US.

What it means for India?

The good work had begun last year and the continuation of the Cameron government will only help matters. At Pound 16 billion, Indo-UK trade is still way below potential. Indians are already the largest property buyers and the largest employer in UK. The trade numbers are obviously punching way below that weight. For India, UK acts as a friendly pressure group in its trade with the EU. Mango ban is one such case. But more than that, it gives a clean route to greater influence with the US government. That is important. Let us hope to see a lot more of Indo-UK bonhomie in coming months. ©

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