London, Jan 30 (PTI) India is among the countries on the UK government's target list for a new post-Brexit trade campaign from Saturday, a day after the country formally leaves the European Union, as it seeks to strike new ties with partners around the globe at the end of 47 years of EU membership.
Mumbai is among 18 cities across 13 countries to be part of the drive, designed to push the message that Britain is now free to do its own new trade deals with countries around the world as a non-member of the soon-to-be 27-member economic bloc, after 47 years of UK membership ends on Friday.
'On 1 February, the new GREAT ‘Ready to Trade’ campaign will launch in 18 cities across 13 countries outside the EU, as the UK seeks to deepen our relationships with future global partners,” Downing Street said in a statement on the eve of Brexit.
The campaign will initially feature digital outdoor advertising in signature locations across the chosen cities and later expand to other activities. Besides India, the others on the list include Australia (Perth, Melbourne, Sydney), Brazil (Sao Paulo), Canada (Toronto), China (Shanghai, Hong Kong), Japan (Tokyo), Mexico (Mexico City), Singapore (Singapore), South Africa (Johannesburg), South Korea (Seoul), Turkey (Istanbul), UAE (Dubai) and USA (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago).
The UK’s Department for International Trade, leading the new drive, says its “GREAT” brand has already proved successful around the world, with surveys indicating those who recognise it are almost twice as likely to say they would trade with the UK in the next three years than those who don’t.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged a “new and improved” trading relationship as part of a “truly special UK-India relationship” on the election campaign trail last year.
But as a member of the EU, the UK was not permitted to open up any separate negotiations with other countries. With the EU Withdrawal Agreement, the so-called divorce bill costing the UK around GBP 30 billion, now having been formally passed by the European Parliament on Wednesday evening 621 votes to 49, the UK’s exit on Friday at 2300 GMT (04:30 IST on Saturday) remains a mere formality.
It would then set off a transition period until the end of December this year, during which time the UK is free to conduct trade negotiations not only for a new agreement with the EU but also around the world. It therefore marks a key milestone in the process set off by the Brexit vote in the June 2016 referendum.
“Friday marks an important moment in the history of our United Kingdom,” said Johnson, in his Brexit message.
“No matter how you voted in 2016, it is the time to look ahead with confidence to the global, trail-blazing country we will become over the next decade and heal past divisions. That is what I will be doing on 31 January and I urge everyone across the UK to do the same,” he said.
Brexiteer demands for the under-refurbishment Big Ben to be briefly revived to chime in the final hours of the UK’s EU membership on Friday night were not approved due to cost considerations. However, Downing Street has set out a series of activities to mark the historic moment of the UK leaving the bloc after 47 years.
A commemorative 50-pence coin will come into circulation, with Johnson being presented the very first Brexit coin which reads ‘Peace prosperity and friendship with all nations’. The coin has come under some criticism for a missing comma after peace, but around 13,000 people have already registered their interest in the coin with the UK’s Royal Mint.
Other activities to mark Brexit Day will include a Special Cabinet on tour – with the meeting of Johnson and his top team set for an undisclosed location in the north of England as a message of unity.
The UK prime minister will later address the nation just before the final Brexit hour, marked by a commemorative light display in Downing Street. The UK’s Union Jack flags will line Parliament Square and the Mall in London on Friday, with government buildings in Whitehall lit up in its red, white and blue colours throughout the evening. PTI AK NSA