British Prime Minister Theresa May has said her upcoming three-day maiden visit to India shows the importance of the UK and India bilateral ties which will be a true celebration of relations and shared ambition for the future.
Addressing the Indian community for the first time at a Diwali reception in her official residence, May said: “It was here in Downing Street PM Narendra Modi chose to start last year’s visit and next month I am delighted to join him in India.”
“It will be the first bilateral visit I make outside European Union. I will be going to Delhi and Bangalore and it shows the importance of our relationship between the UK and India and I think it will be a true celebration of relations between our countries and shared ambition for the future,” she said.
At the outset, May, Dinesh Pattnaik, India’s acting High Commissioner to the UK and Jit Patel from the board of BAPS Swaminarayan Temple lit the lamp, and inaugurated the Diwali celebrations.
“It is a great pleasure and honour to host my first Diwali reception as the Prime Minister. It really shows that the Indian community in the UK is absolutely at the heart of our British society,” May said.
Earlier in the day, May announced in the House of Commons that she would be leading a trade delegation to India from November 6 to 8 next month, as her government seeks new relationships after Britain leaves the European Union.
“I’ll be visiting India in early November and I’m pleased to say that I will be taking a trade delegation with me. We’ll be focusing on small and medium-seized enterprises to try to ensure that we boost the relationships between smaller and medium-sized businesses here in the UK with the important Indian market,” she said.
May, who succeded David Cameron as the new British Prime Minister in July pointed out that “there is a limit to what we can do in terms of entering into a trade arrangement before we have left the European Union, but that does not mean we cannot scope out negotiations and start to have those discussions and indeed we are doing that with a number of countries.”
She said she intends to start formal negotiations on leaving the EU by the end of March, putting Britain on course to exit the bloc – and potentially the European single market – by early 2019.