Brexit POLL: Is Boris right to increase immigration from India in exchange for trade deal?
India: Possibility of UK trade deal 'much higher' says expert
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has travelled to India for his pandemic-delayed trip to strengthen defence and security ties with the country as well as the UK’s post-Brexit diplomatic links. Speaking from the plane en route, he said he hoped to secure a trade deal “by the end of the year” and that he had “always been in favour of having people come to this country”.
Mr Johnson added that relaxed visa rules for highly-skilled Indian migrants could be offered in exchange for a quicker tariff-free trade deal between the nations.
He said: “We have a massive shortage in the UK, not least in experts in IT and programmers. We’re short to the tune of hundreds of thousands in our economy.
“We need to have a professional approach but it has to be controlled.”
Mr Johnson is due to meet with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday to have “in-depth talks” on their “strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership”.
The Telegraph reports that Mr Modi is keen on easier immigration as part of trade negotiations.
The UK has already seen a significant uptick in Indian skilled workers and students coming to Britain post-Brexit, thanks to changes in the points-based system used to grant visas.
According to the Home Office, 61,351 Indian students were accepted to the UK on a sponsored study visa in 2021, a 164 percent increase compared to 2019.
The figures show a total of 150,000 more people came to the UK under the skilled visa route in 2021.
India, Pakistan, and Nigeria accounted for the highest intakes of these work visas.
Mr Johnson is also expected to announce major investments and new collaborations between the UK and India on science, health and technology during his visit to Gujarat later today.
India is viewed as a critical partner for the UK but encouraging the world’s biggest democracy to be firmer with Russia while securing post-Brexit policy wins will be a challenge for Mr Johnson to balance.
Mr Johnson said the UK “would not seek to lecture other democratically elected governments on what course of action was best for them”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “When it comes to India and other democratically elected countries we think the best approach is to engage with them constructively, to try to broaden the alliance of democratic states against Russia.
“We do not think that pointing fingers or shouting from the sidelines are effective ways of engaging with democratically elected countries.”
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