Wednesday 13th March 2019 06:19 EDT
Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal at UK-India Trade Expo

Prime Minister Theresa May suffers yet another defeat on her second meaningful vote on Brexit by a wide margin of 149 votes, two weeks before the UK is slated to officially divorce from its European wife. Mrs. May's revised Brexit deal after receiving last-minute assurances from the EU has failed to achieve the Parliamentarians confidence in the house. 

Almost three years after the UK voted to leave the EU, no major breakthrough has been achieved in Brexit negotiations. With her vision for Brexit defeated for a second time, Parliament will now vote on whether to leave the E.U. on schedule, on March 29, without a deal — a scenario that could create economic chaos for Britain. 

Earlier when May was addressing Parliament, DUP leader Arlene Foster had released a statement saying her party could not support the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, as “sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time.” While European Council President Donald Tusk says the EU is "disappointed" by Brexit result and that it has done "all that is possible to reach an agreement" with the UK.

With only two weeks left to 29 March, the defeat of the second meaningful vote has significantly increased the likelihood of a 'no-deal' Brexit. Whitehall continues their no-deal preparations. Amdist such heightened uncertainties, UK prepares to look east with the first ever UK-India Trade Expo.


The first ever UK-India Trade Expo, a conference that explored and discussed the strength of UK-India relations in a potentially post-Brexit atmosphere was hosted in presence of Deputy Mayor of London for business Rajesh Agrawal, Rt Hon Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP and Dame Asha Khemka DBE DL among others. 

“We have had a 20% increase in the number of students from India who came to study in universities in the UK- a boost to our soft power and nearly 40% of the fastest growing companies in India are today investing and expanding in London,” said Deputy Mayor of London for business Rajesh Agrawal in his keynote speech.

One of the highlights of the day-long conference was the subject of 'ease of doing business with India' wherein Rt Hon Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, shared her past experiences of working with New Delhi. In her speech, she brought to spotlight how the four mega trends at the heart of the Indian markets can be collaborated with businesses in the UK.

“India can overtake the USA as the world's second largest economy by 2050 and should be the third largest economy ahead of Japan by 2030,” emphasised the DUP leader.

At present there are close to 270 UK companies which are operating in India that employ close to 800 employees and according to Foster, UK's exit from EU will further establish UK-India relations. Providing two case studies of Andor Technology and a local bakery back in Northern Ireland, Foster stressed that India- is the gateway to the markets in South Asia- and a hub of young professionals and start-up culture.

However, looking at the future, Barry Tomalin MA, 7Dnews discussed about today's meaningful vote and how did the UK find itself in a position of leaving the EU with Dr. Peter Collecott CMG, Co-Chairman, The Ambassador Partnership.

“We are all in a maze and the whole argument in the Parliament today is about getting out of this problem.

"There is clearly one exit to this situation-a no-deal Brexit but it is not acceptable to a majority in the Parliament. If Mrs. May's revised withdrawal deal is rejected today then it is very likely that a no-deal agreement which will be wiped off the agenda and I don't think that a no-deal agreement will at all be good for UK-India relations,” said Dr. Collecott.

But Dr. Colecott discussed other options wherein Mrs. May's deal can emerges victorious in this long-standing battle, or there could be a softer Brexit or even a potential second referendum. In this Brexit deadlock they highlighted how approximately £900bn worth of financial assets were removed from the UK and 10% of the banking asset which essentially meant the damage done to London's economy and how it can be revived with India's support.

And this support was further lent by voices of professional women from financial, educational, industrial and technological sectors who explored the potential scope of UK-India relations. From discussing about enhanced diversity in workplaces to ensuring gender equality, women like Shanu Hinduja discussed the pivotal role that women can play in this process.

“At Hinduja Bank we offer an east to west bridge where we allow them to unlock opportunities in Europe, Middle-East and South-Asia,” said Shanu Hinduja, Chair, Hinduja Bank.

Discussing the subject of under-representation of women both in the UK and India, Shanu called for provision of greater support entrepreneurial women in both countries and confront the scale of gender pay gap that dominates some institutions even today. The conference even included discussion around Artificial Intelligence and innovation which saw speeches from frontrunners such as Atul Pande, Director of Infrsoft Technologies Ltd. and Sunil Sood, CTO, Miltronix.

Meanwhile, in the nearly two weeks left for the UK to leave the EU twenty business people, ahead of Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement, have signed a joint statement with Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable warning that the UK faces more uncertainty if Brexit proceeds.

“Overwhelmingly – whether in public or in private – business would prefer to stay as a full members of the EU. If the public chooses to do so in a People’s Vote, there would be a significant economic boost,” said Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats.

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