The UK-India relationship is nowhere near as healthy as it was during the Prime Ministry of David Cameron. Ministers arrange frequent departmental bilateral visits but No.10 appears disinterested, there does not appear to be a Modi-May connection.

 

British Indians, NRIs and student unions have taken exception to the Home Office’s changes to immigration rules to encourage talented students and workers from 11 new countries to the UK. With Brexit and desirable FTAs to be agreed, some folks are worried about the consequences for UK of excluding India, the largest English-speaking intellectual capital resource of the world.

The reasons suggested are the failure to sign the MoU about returning illegal immigrants to India; the MoU was offered at the time of the Windrush scandal and it was deemed politically untactful to sign it during this period. Another reason proffered is that some Indians are guilty of abusing the student immigration system. It is no secret there are numbers of bogus Indian universities in UK offering pseudo academic degrees.

In 2012, Prime Minister Theresa May closed many of these when she was Home Secretary but canny entrepreneurial ‘Vice-Chancellors’ have found loopholes to circumvent regulations. It is known that most of these so-called students are working here. The government website has a section specifically entitled “Check if a university or college is officially recognised”.

The Home Office provided The Sunday Guardian with some background regarding India: “Over 90% of Indian students who apply for a UK visa get one. This is up from 86% in 2014 and 83% the year before that. In addition, the proportion of Indian students coming to study in the UK at a university has increased from around 50% in 2010 to around 90% in 2016 and Indian student visa applications are up 30% on last year.”

A Home Office spokesperson said, “…We issue more visas to students from India than any other country except China and the USA.”

The UK-India relationship is nowhere near as healthy as it was during the Prime Ministry of David Cameron; Ministers arrange frequent departmental bilateral visits but No.10 appears disinterested, there does not appear to be a Modi-May connection. The existing Tier 4 visa regulations have long been considered punitive by Indians, as reported for The Sunday Guardian in November 2016.

These new favourable regulations to others certainly justify Sushma Swaraj cosy four-country tour of Europe. However, this reporter found Jean-Claude Juncker’s arm around Ms Swaraj’s shoulder very distasteful, patronising and culturally inappropriate, would he have placed it there if Ms Swaraj was 18 inches taller?

Brexit Update

The Remainer rebellion in the naughty corner of Westminster wanted to have a legality inserted into the EU withdrawal bill that allowed it to return to the House of Commons for a vote in the event of the essential No Deal impasse. This was a thinly disguised attempt to scupper EU Withdrawal and it could have forced to government into negotiating for something it reallydid not want. After promises and broken promises from No.10, the author of the amendment MP Dominic Grieve voted against himself.

The realisation, either under pressure or from conscience, that if his amendment were passed, it would put Theresa May in jeopardy, and he might be responsible for a leadership challenge that would deliver a Brexiteer or a Labour Prime Minister. The government won the vote by 319 to 303, another margin so slim it cannot be called successful. As one observer put it “they are still kicking the Brexit can down the road”.

The last chance saloon for Brexit is when the Cabinet meets at Chequers, still in preparation is the Max Fac alternative to the Single market and Customs Union. Paul Goodman, MP and Editor of Conservative Home, queries exactly how are manufacturing and services going to be separated, he highlights the linked matter of regulation, alignment and divergence that has yet to be explained.

Then there is the ECJ argument regarding the joint movement of goods and people versus taking back control of UK’s immigration, Goodman reminds the PM that immigration was the second driver of the EU Referendum result and urges the PM to keep everything out of the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

He concludes by encouraging the PM to crack on with a No Deal contingency now, and not to deliver a long drawn out £40-billion Brexit that the Commons and citizens will not accept.

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