David Lammy is new UK Foreign Secretary; may visit India soon

LONDON, Jul 5 : British Prime Minister Keir Starmer on Friday named David Lammy as his foreign secretary, as the newly-appointed premier started the process of forming a Labour Party government after winning the general election.

The 51-year-old Labour politician and lawyer who is a backer of strong bilateral ties with India, last month said that he would be visiting New Delhi if his party is voted to power on July 4.

“Many Diwalis have come and gone without a trade deal and too many businesses have been left waiting,” said Lammy, referring to the missed Diwali 2022 deadline set by former prime minister Boris Johnson for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

“My message to [Finance] Minister [Nirmala] Sitharaman and [Trade] Minister [Piyush] Goyal is that Labour is ready to go. Let’s finally get our free trade deal done and move on,” he said, adding he will be in Delhi before the end of July if elected to government on July 4.

Describing India as a “priority” for the party and an economic, technological and cultural “superpower”, Lammy sought to set the tone for his future tenure in a Labour-led Cabinet – hopeful of taking charge as the country’s foreign secretary.

“With Labour, the days of Boris Johnson reciting that old verse from Rudyard Kipling in Asia are over. If I recite a poem in India, it will be Tagore…Because with a superpower like India, the areas of cooperation and the areas for learning are limitless,” he said.

From a wider foreign policy perspective, Lammy stressed on a “free and open Indo-Pacific” working in partnership with India.

“We stand for a rules-based order and against those who wish to redraw borders by force with a new form of imperialism, like [Russian President] Mr Putin in Europe; and those in Asia who wish to impose their will on their neighbours denying them free choices,” he said.

“Europe and Asia are not two separate worlds…In this challenging environment, Britain will remain and seek to ramp up the security partnership with India – from military to maritime security, from cyber to critical and emerging technologies, from defence and industrial cooperation to supply chain security,” Lammy added.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was quick to congratulate Lammy on his appointment.

“Congratulations to @DavidLammy on being appointed Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom. Look forward to continuing our engagement and strengthen the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” Jaishankar wrote on X. (PTI)

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