New Delhi: In an interview to discuss the consequences and implications of the appointment of David Cameron, a former British Prime Minister, as the new British foreign secretary, Britain’s deputy foreign secretary and one of the Conservative Party’s MPs of longest standing, has said that he is “extremely confident” that India and Britain will be able to agree upon a good Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
However, he was reluctant to say whether it would happen before India’s elections in May 2024.
In a 12-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Andrew Mitchell, who earlier served as secretary of state for international development, said the criticisms of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak levelled by Suella Braverman, former home secretary, in her resignation letter were not a matter of concern.
He said such emotional outbursts need to be understood for what they are.
In her resignation letter, Braverman accused Sunak of being “uncertain, weak and lacking in the qualities of leadership that this country needs”.
She added: “Your plan is not working. We have endured record election defeats. Your resets have failed … you need to change course urgently.”
In the interview, Andrew Mitchell explained why the appointment of David Cameron as foreign secretary is the right one at this moment of time and insisted that Cameron, a former prime minister, who is perhaps internationally better known than Sunak, would not overshadow Sunak.
Andrew Mitchell also answered questions about comments in the BBC and the Financial Times that the Cameron appointment is ‘the last gasp of a party that is out of ideas’ and is like rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic.
He also answered questions about the alleged baggage Cameron brings to office, i.e. his China policy and allegations that he indulged in wrongful lobbying during the last few years.
Finally, there’s a section of the interview, right at the end, where Mitchell talks about the language he used as the new deputy foreign secretary whilst speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday regarding the Hamas-Israel war.
Mitchell spoke of the “appalling loss of life”. He said “every civilian death is heartbreaking”, that it is “impossible to comprehend the pain and loss innocent Palestinians are endearing” and that “too many civilians are losing their lives”.
Mitchell was asked if this is new language that reflects a significant shift in the attitude of the British government to the Hamas-Israel war. I will leave you to see the interview to hear Mitchell’s answers.