One of the conditions of the UK trade deal with India was centred around UK immigration and the possibility of the acceptance of more immigrants into the UK. As the PM, Theresa May, looks for a post-Brexit trade agreement, India has offered a deal that could see more people come to the UK.
So, Theresa May’s hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal with India underwent somewhat of a knock back from Delhi after her first official visit to the country as PM.
A spokesman for India’s minister of external affairs implied that a policy brought in by May as home secretary restricting the right of Indian students to stay in the UK after graduation could prove to be a barrier on any development in trade deal plans.
Before taking 33 business representatives to India this week, May said she wanted to “reboot” the relationship between UK and India.
“The UK and India are natural partners – the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy – and together I believe we can achieve great things – delivering jobs and skills, developing new technologies and improving our cities, tackling terrorism and climate change,” she said.
May and the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, met for more than two hours of talks on trade, investment, defence and security. Downing Street aims to break down any existing trade and investment barriers, and secure agreement to talks that would lead up plans for a bilateral trade arrangement once the UK had left the EU.
However, an Indian government spokesman has told the Observer that May faced difficult questions on immigration and mobility for Indian students and workers in the UK when she arrived in Delhi. In the last five years or so, the number of Indian students enrolling in UK universities has dropped by almost 50% – from around 40,000 to about 20,000. This is largely due to restrictions on British citizenship and post-study stay in the UK.
Shashi Tharoor, the chairman of India’s parliamentary standing committee on external affairs, said May’s anti-immigrant policies were “detrimental” to the relationship between the UK and India. Since the UK’s departure from the Europe, there has been an influx of calls to immigration advice services in Manchester to London, proving the worries people are facing. When Donald Trump was announced at the new US President-Elect, the Canadian Immigration website actually crashed due to high traffic volumes. In the current climate, nothing is certain, and Theresa May faces some tough decisions in the months ahead.