Indian visa policy can cause cabinet friction

The Rishi Sunak-led government in the United Kingdom is holding talks with India to increase the number of business visas granted to Indian nationals as part of a potential trade deal.

But the move could cause friction in the cabinet, reported Bloomberg.

Trade Minister Greg Hands on Wednesday told the House of Commons that "active negotiations" over the business visas were taking place and talks on most of the deal were already complete.

He also said an agreement with India would benefit British exporters as they could reach out to a billion consumers.

The British government is trying to highlight the benefits of Brexit by adding to the new trade deals it has struck since leaving the European Union.

But loosening visa arrangements might also put Mr Sunak - the first British Prime Minister of Indian origin - on a collision course with Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who recently expressed concerns about the arrangements.

Ms Braverman, a hard-line Brexiteer whose parents are also both of Indian origin, appeared to oppose a more generous visa policy in an interview with Spectator earlier this month.

She said: "I do have some reservations. Look at migration in this country - the largest group of people who overstay are Indian migrants."

Ms Braverman also told Spectator that she had "concerns about having an open-borders migration policy with India because I don't think that's what people voted for with Brexit".

At the time, the British media reported that her comments provoked the ire of former prime minister Liz Truss, who had wanted a more flexible migration policy in her short-lived effort to boost growth.

Mr Sunak is already under pressure for appointing Ms Braverman back to the post she quit just a week ago over a security breach that she herself acknowledged broke ministerial rules.

Mr Hands on Wednesday suggested that increasing the number of temporary business visas for Indians was a separate issue to permanent migration.

"In the area of trade, what we're talking about are Mode 4 arrangements. These aren't immigration arrangements. These relate to business visas, not for permanent settlement," he said.

Some 16 chapters across 26 policy areas have been agreed on, according to Mr Hands, who said talks would resume "shortly".

"We are working towards the best deal for both sides and won't sign until we have a deal that is fair, reciprocal and ultimately in the best interests of the British people and the UK economy," he said.

Indo-Asian News Service

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