A welcome distraction
That government red carpet is proving value for money. Hot on the heels of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to London, yesterday the British government put on a show for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The leader of the world’s largest democracy was feted with an address to both Houses of Parliament and a visit to Chequers. Today he will be guest of honour at Buckingham Palace and a rally for the British Indian community at Wembley.
As with President Xi’s visit, pomp and circumstance is accompanied by the business of diplomacy. Among a range of bilateral announcements, David Cameron and Modi have issued a joint statement on energy and climate change looking ahead to COP21. UK firms have also confirmed big investments in India’s growing clean power sector. With the general election out of the way, Cameron and George Osborne are now fully focussed on delivering their lofty ambitions for British exports and infrastructure.
Naturally, both Prime Ministers are looking to accrue political capital with this visit. For Mr Modi, the trip is a chance to move on from domestic poll losses and allegations he has been stoking ethnic tensions. For Mr Cameron, the visit is a welcome distraction from the long-running sores of Europe and tax credits. It also gives the Conservative leader a fresh opportunity to pitch to the British Indian community, an influential group of voters his party is keen to monopolise. No doubt both men will be in buoyant spirits as they do the ceremonial rounds today.
Photograph: David Cameron