Johnson hints at visa reversal under India trade deal

Boris Johnson has indicated he is prepared to waive immigration visas as part of the price of a trade deal with India.

Visas to study, work and settle in the UK have long been a top priority for Delhi in talks with the UK on improving trade relations. London’s reluctance to open is seen as the main obstacle to the trade deal, which both sides have said they want to complete by the end of this year.

But Mr Johnson appeared set to take a more dovish line as he heads to India for a two-day visit, which will include talks with the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.

Asked by reporters if he would have anything to offer Mr Modi on visas, the Prime Minister immediately referred to the UK’s need for ‘hundreds of thousands’ of workers with in-demand skills, who benefit from a privileged treatment in the context of post-Brexit points. tourism-based immigration system.

“I’ve always been in favor of people coming to this country,” Mr Johnson said. “We have a massive shortage in the UK, especially of IT and programming experts. We are short by hundreds of thousands of people in our economy.

“We have to have a professional approach, but it has to be controlled.”

Mr Johnson said the trade deals and export deals to be announced on his trip are worth a total of £1billion and will create around 11,000 jobs, mostly in the UK.

They include a deal for a satellite company saved from bankruptcy by Dominic Cummings using £400million of British taxpayers’ money, which intends to launch rockets from India.

Mr Johnson said the relationship was strengthened by the “living bridge” of people of Indian descent living in the UK and that he himself had in-laws living in India.

He said British politicians must “respect and understand the sensitivities” of Britain’s history as India’s imperial ruler, but added: “The great thing about the relationship today is that she is in a different place and is less bothered by it. luggage.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Boris Johnson in Glasgow last year

(Getty Images)

The long-awaited trip – twice postponed due to the Covid pandemic – means Mr Johnson will be absent from Westminster for Thursday’s crucial vote on a parliamentary inquiry into allegations he was in contempt of the House of Commons. Commons by lying on Partygate.

The visit threatens to be overshadowed by India’s refusal to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine or reduce its trade relations with Moscow. India remains a major consumer of Russian military and energy exports.

However, Downing Street insists the Prime Minister will not try to ‘admonish’ Mr Modi, but rather offer ‘constructive’ proposals from alternative sources in a bid to reduce the country’s dependence on the country. Russia.

Former aide Mr Cummings persuaded Mr Johnson to allow OneWeb to be rescued over objections from officials, after identifying the little-known company as a means by which post-Brexit Britain could establish a presence in the satellite communications market.

It aims to place hundreds of small, relatively inexpensive satellites into low orbit to provide broadband coverage around the world, but faces competition from major players such as Elon Musk and Amazon.

Today’s agreement follows last October’s Letter of Intent, jointly signed by OneWeb and NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) – a commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) – in which OneWeb executive chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal outlined plans to use two India-built vehicles as potential platforms to launch satellites from the country.

The company recently canceled planned launches from Russia’s Bakonur space facility in Kazakhstan due to last-minute requests from Moscow.

Other deals Mr Johnson announced upon his arrival in the western Indian state of Gujarat included:

  • a new R&D center for Switch Mobility’s electric buses in the UK and the opening of the company’s Asia-Pacific headquarters in Chennai, generating over 1,000 jobs in the UK and India
  • investment from Indian automaker Bharat Forge and electric truck maker Tevva Motors to finance the expansion of a new site in the southeast and create 500 new jobs
  • Indian software company Mastek is investing £79m to create 1,600 jobs over the next three years in the UK
  • an agreement with Smith & Nephew, based in Hertfordshire, to sell robotic surgical systems in India

Mr Johnson said: “As I arrive in India today, I see vast possibilities for what our two great nations can achieve together. From 5G telecommunications and next-generation AI to new partnerships in the health research and renewable energy, the UK and India lead the world.

“Our powerful partnership is creating jobs, growth and opportunity for our people, and it will only get stronger in the years to come.”

The Prime Minister will visit a new factory being opened by a British company in Gujarat, as well as a biotechnology university working in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh.

UK to confirm new science and technology collaborations including digital health partnership, new AI scholarships for Indian students and £6m investment by AI health specialists Qure-ai to finance the opening of a center of excellence in the United Kingdom.

The negotiating teams will begin their third round of formal talks in India next week on a trade deal. But no breakthrough is expected during the Prime Minister’s visit.

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