Trudeau: UK takes allegations by Trudeau seriously but will continue trade negotiations


LONDON: The UK has been left in an awkward position by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s statement alleging a potential link between Indian government agents and the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar, owing to its close ties with both countries. Britain said on Tuesday it took the allegations seriously but would continue its trade negotiations with India “as before”.
The UK is a member of the Five Eyes, alongside Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand, a secretive and far-reaching intelligence gathering, espionage and analysis alliance created in the aftermath of the Second World War. This means that Canada may have received assistance from Western allies in linking Nijjar’s killing to India.
A UK government spokesperson told TOI: “We are in close touch with our Canadian partners about these serious allegations. It would be inappropriate to comment further during the ongoing investigation by the Canadian authorities.”
At a No. 10 lobby briefing, the UK prime minister’s official spokesman said the government was “not looking to conflate trade negotiations with other issues”.
The UK is in the latter stages of negotiating a trade deal with India, which for the UK would become one of the biggest prizes of Brexit.
Lord Singh of Wimbledon, a cross-bench peer, told TOI the UK government response was “cowardly”. “It does nothing for the standing of Britain in the world to take this attitude,” he said. Instead he “applauded Trudeau for speaking out for the human rights of his country’s citizens before consideration of trade and strategic interests”.
Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi wrote on Instagram that the reports coming from Canada were “really concerning”. “Many Sikhs from Slough and beyond have already contacted me; anxious, angry or fearful. Given the Canadian PM stated they’ve been working with our Five Eyes alliance, the UK government must explain what it knows,” he wrote.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer met the Canadian PM on September 16 in Montreal, Canada.
Supporters of Avtar Singh Khanda, the head of the Khalistan Liberation Force — a secessionist militant outfit designated by India as a terrorist organisation — who died on June 15 at Birmingham City Hospital from terminal blood cancer, three days before Nijjar was killed, have recommenced calls for an investigation into Khanda’s death. A West Midlands police spokesperson told TOI: “A thorough review was undertaken by West Midlands police which concluded that there were no suspicious circumstances.”
Dabinderjit Singh, principal adviser of the Sikh Federation (UK), on which India had sought a UK ban, said this should stop the UK government appeasing India by continuously bringing up “pro-Khalistan extremism” which, he claimed, “simply does not exist”, and make the UK focus on what he alleged was the “extreme ideology and terrorist actions of the Indian state”.

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