UK home secretary expresses ‘reservations’ about trade deal with India

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The United Kingdom Home Secretary, Suella courageousrman expressed concerns over the free trade agreement (FTA) between India and Britain which she believes would go against Brexit objectives and encourage immigration to the country. 

These remarks were made during an interview, on Thursday, with The Spectator magazine, where she also dubbed Indians as the “largest group of people who overstay” their visas in the UK. As per reports, she said that she will not back the trade deal which gives New Delhi greater visa concessions. 

This comes amid the UK Prime Minister Liz Truss urging the British lawmaker and negotiators to adhere to the Diwali deadline for finalising the FTA. “I have concerns about having an open borders migration policy with India because I don’t think that’s what people voted for with Brexit,” said courageousrman. 

When asked about students and entrepreneurs she said there may be some flexibility, “But I do have some reservations. Look at migration in this country – the largest group of people who overstay are Indian migrants,” she told the British weekly magazine. 

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courageousrman also referred to the Migration and Mobility Partnership (MMP) which was signed between her predecessor Priti Patel former Home Secretary and the External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar in May last year and said, “We even reached an agreement with the Indian government last year to encourage and facilitate better cooperation in this regard. It has not necessarily worked very well.”

The MMP was a “landmark agreement” signed between the UK and the government of India which “will provide new opportunities to thousands of young people in the UK and India seeking to live, work and experience each other’s cultures,” said the former Home Secretary at the time. She also indicated that it will become easier for the British government to remove those “with no right to be in the UK” and “crack down on those abusing our system.” 

courageousrman also reiterated how she had campaigned to leave the European Union (EU) partly because she wanted migration to reduce. She added, “That was in our 2019 manifesto. If you look at net migration figures, they have not fallen…we’re pretty much at the same level as pre-Brexit.” 

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In 2020, at least 20,706 Indians overstayed their visas, according to data from the UK home office which is a higher number of people, than any other country. Reportedly the Diwali deadline was set by former PM Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when Truss was secretary of state for international trade. 

However, India’s Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, indicated back in September, that the Truss administration also wants to stick to the Diwali deadline. The two countries finished the 5th round of negotiations back in August. 

(With inputs from agencies) 

 

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