Rishi Sunak opens door for 3,000 more Indian graduates to work in UK as PM paves the way for trade deal in G20 talks with Narendra Modi
- Rishi Sunak meets with India’s Narendra Modi at G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia
- Their talks open the door for 3,000 more Indians to live and work in Britain
- The new migration pact is an attempt to smooth the path to a UK-India trade deal
Rishi Sunak met with Narendra Modi today as he opened the door for 3,000 more Indians to live and work in Britain in an attempt to smooth the path for a trade deal.
The Prime Minister and his Indian counterpart held talks at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, as Mr Sunak conducted a flurry of international diplomacy.
The final day of the G20 summit has been dominated by discussions about how to respond to Russia’s latest wave of missile strikes on Ukraine.
World leaders have been left scrambling to clarify what happened after a missile also hit Nato member Poland and killed two people.
After talks with Mr Sunak, Mr Modi said his country ‘attaches great importance to robust ties’ with Britain.
The Indian PM added on Twitter: ‘We discussed ways to increase commercial linkages, raise the scope of security cooperation in context of India’s defence reforms and make people-to-people ties even stronger.’
A reciprocal UK-India migration pact will begin early next year and allow degree-educated Indian students aged 18 to 30 to stay for up to two years.
It will be seen as an attempt to get a trade treaty with India over the line, with ministers having been locked in talks since January.
A deal could be worth up to £28billion a year by 2035, although New Delhi has been driving a hard bargain over demands for more visas for Indians to work and live in Britain as part of an agreement.
Both Mr Sunak’s predecessors, Liz Truss and Boris Johnson, had been pushing for a UK-India trade deal to be signed by the end of last month.
But that deadline was ditched when no breakthrough in negotiations occurred.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman was claimed to have sunk chances of an agreement to coincide with this year’s Diwali festival after her criticism of Indian migrants.
Rishi Sunak met with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi today at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia
The PM’s talks with Mr Modi opened the door for 3,000 more Indians to live and work in Britain in an attempt to smooth the path for a trade deal
Ahead of the talks, Mr Sunak said he knew ‘first-hand the incredible value of the deep cultural and historic ties we have with India’
Following his talks with Mr Sunak, Mr Modi said his country ‘attaches great importance to robust ties’ with Britain
Last night Mr Sunak said: ‘I know first-hand the incredible value of the deep cultural and historic ties we have with India.
‘I am pleased that even more of India’s brightest young people will now have the opportunity to experience all that life in the UK has to offer – and vice-versa – making our economies and societies richer.’
Asked separately about the prospects of a deal anytime soon, he played down the chances, saying talks should not be rushed.
He said: ‘The India trade deal is obviously a fantastic opportunity for the UK… but I wouldn’t sacrifice quality for speed. And that goes for all trade deals.
‘It’s important that we get them right rather than rush them and so that’s the approach I’ll take on trade deals.
‘And the other thing with India, remember that the trade deal is just one part of a broader relationship we have which is incredibly strong and indeed strategic and happens across multiple different aspects of policy.
‘You know, trade is an important part of it, but it’s not the only part and we’ll be making progress in all of them.’
Under the new visa scheme, 3,000 more Indians aged 18 to 30 will be able to live and work in the UK for up to two years.
Applicants must be degree-educated, be able to support themselves financially and cannot apply if they have dependents they are financially responsible for.
The deal is reciprocal, meaning Britons must be allowed to live and work in India on similar terms. It will begin early next year.
More than 220,000 Indians were in Britain last year on existing schemes, such as the sponsored student visa and skilled workers visa.
The deal risks a rift with Mrs Braverman, who has said she wants to reduce annual net migration down to the tens of thousands.
It currently stands at around 239,000.
The Home Secretary’s comments about Indian migrants in October were reported to have infuriated New Delhi, with Mr Modi abandoning plans to visit the UK.
In an interview with the Spectator magazine, Mrs Braverman said she had ‘some reservations’ about reducing visa rules for Indians wishing to come to the UK.
‘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,’ she said.