Theresa May and Indian prime minister Nerendra Modi meet in New Delhi CREDIT EPA – HARISH TYAGI
Theresa May has signalled she will offer “improvements” to the visa system if India offers help to return what could be tens of thousands of overstayers in the UK.
The Prime Minister unveiled her new ‘one in, one out’ policy as part of a bid to strengthen links with one of its oldest trading partners after Brexit.
Mrs May told a press conference in India: “We have invited the Indian Government to become the first government in the world to nominate top business executives for the Great Club – our bespoke visa and immigration service.
“We have also agreed to establish a strategic dialogue on home affairs issues covering visas, returns, and organised crime.
“As part of this, the UK will consider further improvements to our visa offer if at the same time we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain in the UK.
“And the UK will continue to welcome the brightest and best Indian students, with the latest figures showing that nine out of ten applications are granted.”
The Indian Prime Minister has warned that education will “define” the future relationship with the UK in remarks that will increase pressure on Mrs May to grant more student visas as part of a bid to improve trade links with the country.
At a speech in New Delhi Nerendra Modi said there must be “greater participation” between students in the UK and India, adding the education forms a “vital” part of the relationship.
India is pushing for more student visas as part of a deal with Mrs May to boost trade links, but the Prime Minister has signalled that she will not give in to the calls amid concerns about the number foreign nationals settling in the UK.
It came as the Prime Minister announced four new £600million Masala bonds to be launched to investors in London as part of plans to help Mr Modi finance infrastructure investment in India.
The bonds, first announced by George Osborne as part of Mr Modi’s visit to London last year, will be used to boost infrastructure investment in India.
Over £900million of the bonds have already been launched in the UK and have fuelled investment in Indian railways. The financial product, denominated in rupees, has proved popular with investors in the City.
Mrs May said: “This is another vote of confidence in our world-leading financial services and further proof that Britain is open for business.
“This government will continue to work closely with both India and our financial services sector to ensure our growing rupee bond market continues to help finance India’s ambitious infrastructure investment plans.”
In her speech Mrs May said India and the UK have a lot to gain from working more closely together.
She said: “Because we know from history what happens when countries do not embrace the opportunities of the world. They stagnate, they get poorer, they don’t protect their people, they make them worse off.”
Prime Minister of India
- 17 September 1950 (age 66)
Elected: May 2014
Education: University of Delhi, Gujarat University
Before politics: Born into into a lower middle class family. Regional organiser for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (Hindu nationalist, non-governmental organisation)
Modi swept into power as prime minister in May 2014 in a spectacular victory against the Indian National Congress which had controlled the country’s politics for most of the last 60 years
Viewed as a modernising leader, Modi has focused on growth and business interests across the world, and has helped reintegrate himself into the political mainstream with frequent trips abroad.
Despite his successes, he has been seen as a divisive figure. In 2002 he was accused of inaction over the sectarian riots in Gujarat in which 1000 people, mostly Muslims, were massacred. He has been cleared of involvement but has refused to apologise for loss of life.