In a statement made on Thursday (September 8), a spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak asserted that the United Kingdom (UK) would not make any changes to its immigration policy to facilitate a free trade agreement with India. During a press conference, the spokesperson conveyed Prime Minister Sunak’s belief that current immigration levels were already too high. The spokesperson left no room for ambiguity, stating, “To be absolutely clear, there are no intentions to modify our immigration policy in pursuit of this free trade accord, including student visas.”
According to a report by Reuters, there is growing optimism that a free trade deal between India and the UK could be finalized this year, as both nations have reached a broad consensus on the pact’s essential components. Prime Minister Sunak, who will be participating in the G20 summit in New Delhi this weekend, informed his ministers that negotiations were making progress, emphasizing his commitment to an approach that benefits the entirety of Britain.
It’s worth noting that last year, UK’s Interior Minister Suella Braverman ignited controversy with comments regarding the potential impact of Indian migrants in trade negotiations, expressing reservations about both an “open borders migration policy with India” and concerns about visa overstays.
In June of this year, Trade Minister Kemi Badenoch clarified that Britain would engage in discussions concerning temporary business visas as part of trade talks but would not extend those discussions to encompass broader immigration commitments or access to the UK’s labor market for Indian workers.
During the upcoming G20 summit, UK Prime Minister Sunak and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, are anticipated to engage in bilateral talks addressing the progress of the trade deal, as reported by the Financial Times.
Furthermore, during the G20 summit, Sunak is expected to urge Modi to publicly denounce Russia’s offensive in Ukraine and leverage India’s influence to contribute to a resolution of the conflict, as per reports in the Financial Times. It was previously reported by Reuters that Sunak would also discuss strategies to circumvent Russia’s Black Sea grain blockade with other G20 leaders.