UK vs India: Boris urged to be tough on Modi ahead of G7 summit – row to erupt

Boris Johnson warned of 'protest' at G7 Summit by expert

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The Prime Minister has invited the Indian Prime Minister as a guest to the G7 summit which begins in Cornwall on Friday. The UK is looking to strengthen is post-Brexit relationship with New Dehli, but a number of Tory MPs have raised concerns over the treatment of foreign investors in India.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis insisted it is right for India to be seen as a strategic ally for the West against the rising force of China.

But he has warned India could be at a “halfway house between democracy and despotism”.

Mr Davis, a lifelong civil liberties campaigner, claimed Indian authorities had removed critics from social media platforms and has taken over “by force the property of at least three American and British companies operating in India”.

The backbench Tory MP said: “It’s time for Modi and his government to choose.

“Does India’s future lie in committing to the western alliance of free democratic nations, or will he instead attempt some halfway house between democracy and despotism, between freedom and oppression, between the rule of law or the arbitrary whim of rulers, between the west and Chinese Communist party?”

Tory MPs James Daly and Paul Bristow, who are also officers of the all-party parliamentary group on Kashmir, have also written to the Prime Minister.

In the letter they warn the future economic partnership between the London and New Delhi is “dependent on respect for the rule of law and protection of investors”.

They wrote: “Every step forward in UK-India economic relations is dependent on respect for the rule of law and protection of investors.

“This is the foundation that supports increased investment, standards recognition, technological co-operation and so much more.

“It provides certainty and predictability, which in turn unlocks investment and encourages risk-taking.”

The warning comes in the wake of a number of expensive disputes between UK firms and the Indian Government.

Last September, Vodafone, one of Britain’s largest telecoms operators, won a legal battle with the Indian tax authorities.

An international arbitration court ruled in favour of Vodafone after Indian authorities argued the UK firm should pay almost €3billion in back taxes and penalties related to its 2007 acquisition of a local operator.

Last month, Scottish firm Cairn Energy, launched legal action against Air India in New York in an effort to enforce a ruling that New Delhi should pay the firm $1.2billion plus interest to settle a historic tax dispute.

In May, the Indian Government said it was “vigorously defending its case” in the Cairn Energy dispute.

The UK Government said it will not get involved in legal disputes and the Prime Minister will be holding bilateral talks with leaders attending the summit in person.

Mr Modi will make a virtual appearance at the summit due to the coronavirus pandemic in India.

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The leaders of Australia, South Korea and South Africa have also been invited as guests.

Last month, the UK and India announced more than 6,500 new jobs will be created around Britain after a new £1billion trade and investment deal was struck.

Trade between the UK and India is already worth around £23billion a year, supporting more than half a million jobs.

The Prime Minister said the UK is aiming to double the value of trade between the two nations, which aims to be achieved by 2030.
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