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British Prime Minister Theresa May Eyes Stronger Trade Ties with India Post Brexit

India wants to expand trade ties with Britain, it also wants easier access for its students and skilled workers

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FILE- Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing street in London, July 20, 2016. VOA
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November 6, 2016: British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in India Sunday on her first bilateral visit outside the European Union to lay the groundwork for stronger trade ties post Brexit with the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

But India will press the British leader on tighter visa rules that have diminished the number of Indian students going to British universities and that could impact Indian professionals in the country.

Ahead of the visit, the British leader said the trip was about “expanding our horizons and forging stronger partnerships with countries around the world” following Britain’s exit from the European Union.

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In India, immigration concerns

In New Delhi, observers say the visit will test how stricter immigration policies will impact Britain’s efforts to build stronger business partnerships.

While India wants to expand trade ties with Britain, it also wants easier access for its students and skilled workers.

Ahead of the visit, India foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup underlined those concerns, saying, “Indian students and people-to-people relations are important pillars of India-UK ties … we expect mobility issues to be raised during this visit.”

He said restrictions have impacted Indian students staying in Britain after graduation.

“In the last year or so, the number of Indian students enrolling in U.K. universities has gone down by almost 50 percent from around 40,000 to around 20,000 now,” he said.

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Those restrictions were introduced into legislation by May when she was interior minister. Changes to visa rules announced last week also will impact Indian professionals in Britain.

“The impression Britain is giving to countries such as India is, we want your business but we don’t want your people,” said London-based political strategist Manoj Ladwa in the Hindu newspaper.

Both sides seek trade deals

However expanding trade ties with Britain is a priority for India, which is the third largest investor in Britain with about 800 Indian companies operating there. Britain is also a major investor in India.

There will be no trade deals on the table during the visit because Britain cannot formally negotiate these until it officially leaves the European Union, but the two countries will explore the possibility of a free trade deal post Brexit.

And while New Delhi has struggled to seal a free trade pact with the European Union for years, it might be easier to do it with Britain, which shares historical ties with India dating back to the colonial era.

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“This is a partnership about our shared security and shared prosperity. It is a partnership of potential. And on this visit I intend to harness that potential, rebooting an age-old relationship,” May said in a statement ahead of the visit.

The British leader is scheduled to address a trade-focused technology seminar in New Delhi, meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and visit India’s IT hub of Bengaluru on Tuesday.

May is accompanied by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Trade Minister Greg Hands, and business leaders from medium- and small-sized companies. (VOA)

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Brexit Consequences Getting Tougher for Theresa May

In a Tuesday radio interview International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said it was not acceptable for the unelected House of Lords to try to block the democratic will of the British people, who voted by a 52-48 margin in June, 2016 to leave the EU.

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May's spokesperson said both the Prime Minister and the Brexit secretary, David Davis, said the government would be robust when the EU withdrawal bill returned to the House of Commons after completing its passage in the House of Lords.
Brexit representational image, Pixabay

Confidence in Britain’s Brexit negotiations ending successfully have hit a new low, according to a new opinion poll.

A poll published on Tuesday by the Guardian newspaper and ICM revealed that only 28 per cent think the Brexit talks will conclude satisfactorily, against 47 percent who now think they will end unsatisfactorily, Xinhua reported.

In a similar poll in December 39 per cent feared an unsatisfactory outcome, but 35 per cent were confident of a satisfactory outcome.

The results came as Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet met at 10 Downing Street to discuss a string of votes in the House of Commons Monday. The votes saw unelected peers in the House of Lords backing amendments against May’s flagship European Union withdrawal bill.

The biggest blow was an amendment passed by 335 votes to 244, which would give MPs the power to stop Britain from leaving the EU without a deal, or make May return to the negotiating table, ruling out a no-deal scenario.

Journalists briefed after the cabinet meeting were told later that May and cabinet ministers expressed strong disappointment at the defeats in the House of Lords over the EU withdrawal bill.

Downing Street said there was concern the amendments risked tying the government’s hands behind its back in negotiations.

In a Tuesday radio interview International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said it was not acceptable for the unelected House of Lords to try to block the democratic will of the British people, who voted by a 52-48 margin in June, 2016 to leave the EU.
Theresa May , wikimedia commons

May’s spokesperson said both the Prime Minister and the Brexit secretary, David Davis, said the government would be robust when the EU withdrawal bill returned to the House of Commons after completing its passage in the House of Lords.

In a Tuesday radio interview International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said it was not acceptable for the unelected House of Lords to try to block the democratic will of the British people, who voted by a 52-48 margin in June, 2016 to leave the EU.

Fox said the House of Lords amendment opened up the possibility of delaying Britain’s exit from the EU indefinitely.

It will be up to the House of Commons to decide whether to accept the amendments to the Brexit bill from the House of Lords, or strike out the proposed changes.

With May running a minority government, shored up by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland, victory for the prime minister is far from guaranteed, particularly with a number of pre-EU rebels among her ranks.

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To add to May’s woes, media reports in London say several of her senior ministers have threatened to resign if she strikes a deal that will keep Britain in a customs union.

The Independent newspaper Tuesday night reported that May was preparing for a Brexit meeting with select cabinet ministers Wednesday at which they will try to come up with a joint position on post-withdrawal customs relations following rejection of Britain’s existing proposals. (IANS)