Johnson’s mission to India fails

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THE UK and India have agreed on a ‘new and expanded’ defence and security partnership during British premier Boris Johnson’s crisis visit to New Delhi.

PM Johnson was however unable to convince the Indian leader to break India’s close relationship with Russia, which was the object of his visit.

Johnson held talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Friday on ways to boost security ties between the two countries.

The visit took place as the British premier faced a threat to sack him by Tory MPs who in his absence agreed on a probe to decide whether he lied to Parliament over the ‘Partygate’ law-breaking scandal.

Retaining the support of the Tory Party by weakening India’s relationship with Russia was the major aim of his visit.

India has a long history of cooperation with Moscow, which continues to be its biggest military supplier, and has refused to condemn Russia for its military operation in Ukraine.

‘The threats of autocratic coercion have grown even further,’ Johnson said alongside his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi.

‘And its 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’.

He said yesterday: ‘We have agreed on a new and expanded defence and security partnership, a decades-long commitment that will not only forge tighter bonds between us but support your goal of Make in India,’ referring to Modi’s domestic manufacturing push.

‘And its therefore vital that we deepen our cooperation including our shared interest in keeping the Indo-Pacific open and free,’ he added.

He said negotiators from the two countries were expected to complete a free-trade deal by the end of this year.

However as far as his job is concerned it could be a matter of much ‘too little too late’.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, the chair of the Defence Committee Tobias Ellwood said Conservative MPs were ‘deeply troubled’ and warned that the ongoing row about lockdown parties was doing ‘long-term damage to the party’s brand’.

He accused No. 10 of lacking ‘discipline, focus and leadership’ and predicted the prime minister would face a vote of no confidence, which could force him out of office.

The Bournemouth East MP also dismissed suggestions Johnson should stay in post to manage the Ukraine crisis accusing the prime minister’s allies of using the war as a ‘fig leaf’.