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May turns to cricket to win Indian support in Brexit standoff

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - 08:09

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May appealed to India's love of cricket in the hope that her own affection for the sport will strengthen relations with her counterpart Narendra Modi.

[NEW DELHI] UK Prime Minister Theresa May appealed to India's love of cricket in the hope that her own affection for the sport will strengthen relations with her counterpart Narendra Modi.

After clashing with Mr Modi over migration at the start of her trade mission to New Delhi, Mrs May tried to ease the strains by giving her host a silver cricket bat, her spokeswoman Helen Bower said.

Mrs May joked during speeches on Monday about the rivalry between the England and India cricket teams, who play each other in a series of matches starting this week.

Mr Modi also made a joke about the contest during the talks, telling Mrs May: "May the best team win".

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Whatever her hosts made of her visit, the prime minister received the endorsement of a famous Englishman who happened to be on vacation in the same hotel as members of her delegation.

"She will be brilliant, honestly," said Geoffrey Boycott, the former England cricketer who is a lifelong hero of Mrs May's.

"She will be like Margaret Thatcher eventually."

After she learned Mr Boycott was in New Delhi, Mrs May invited him to a reception at the British High Commissioner's residence, where the pair spoke, her office said.

Mr Boycott, who scored more than 48,000 runs in his career and is now a BBC cricket commentator, also declared himself a fervent Brexit supporter. Some EU rules are "stupid", he said.

"I want us to be independent, not run by France and Germany," he told reporters in New Delhi.

"We have always been successful as an island - trade with people but not let them run our lives."

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