India’s Message to UK: The tit for tat move requiring quarantine for British travellers to India is now over, significantly several days after the UK lifted its much-challenged measure. In the slightly delayed Indian decision lies a simple diplomatic message: “don’t mess with us”. It comes after a conciliatory call from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And so now the British can push for new trade openings with India that they really want.
Boris Johnson’s Messy Solution: The days are mostly gone in India when ministers would refuse to leave government accommodation even when out of office. But in Britain, they are making a comeback. The 115-room mansion Chevening House has traditionally been kept for use by the foreign secretary. Liz Truss accordingly took to using it. But former foreign secretary Dominic Raab has refused to move out. Prime Minister Johnson came up with the messiest possible solution — that they should use it jointly, both for official and personal use. The nation waits to hear what they say to one another when they bump into each other on the lawns.
Covid Numbers Rising in UK: The number of Covid cases is rising steadily now in the UK, and no one seems to care. More than 42,000 new cases were recorded on Wednesday. The number of hospitalisations at just above 7,000 dropped by one, but 136 more Covid-related deaths were reported. No vaccine has reported a guaranteed 100 per cent immunity, and some are falling through the cracks. Also, the cases include a large number of people who have refused vaccination. Some of the remaining difficulties with Covid have been self-invited.
Faith Eroding in UK Govt: This brings little reassurance to India, even retrospectively, but the messy UK refusal to recognise Indian certification for a vaccine it recognises is far from the only decision that the UK has taken that it accepted later to be incorrect and then reversed. Over the pandemic policy, the UK did this time and again. And now over Northern Ireland under the Brexit arrangements. After lengthy negotiations over three years to secure a special deal, UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost says the arrangement is not working and has to be “redone”. Faith in the word and the ways of the UK government is eroding more than the British ever thought it might.
Britain’s Slight Change of Tune on Kashmir: Britain’s minister for Asia, Amanda Milling, has visited its Carrier Strike Group in Singapore. Her visit sought to underline Britain’s new policy concentration on the Indo-Pacific region. Recently, Milling, replying to the debate on Kashmir in the UK parliament, spoke of India as a key partner in the region. This has certainly been a factor in shifting slightly the tone of British talk over Kashmir. Milling’s visit to the fleet reaffirms that new perception.