India awaits “demonstrable progress” on certain commitments undertaken by the UK government under the Migration and Mobility Partnership (MMP) clinched between the two sides last year, the Indian High Commission in London has said.
The statement followed controversial remarks by UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman to say that the MMP with India had not “worked very well”. In an interview with ‘The Spectator’, the minister also branded Indians as the “largest group of people who overstay” their visas in the UK and expressed “reservations” over the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) in its final stages of negotiation towards a Diwali deadline.
The High Commission of India in London said: “While certain issues pertaining to Mobility and Migration are currently under discussion as part of these negotiations, any comment on these matters may not be appropriate given that the negotiations are underway, and that any arrangement will include issues of interest to both sides.
“As part of our wider discussions under Migration and Mobility, GOI [Government of India] is committed to work with the Government of UK to facilitate the return of Indian citizens who have overstayed their visa period here in the UK. As per data shared with the Home Office, as on date, action has been initiated on all of the cases referred to the High Commission.
MORE LIKE THIS…
“Further, UK has also undertaken to fulfil certain commitments as part of the Migration and Mobility Protocol, on which we await demonstrable progress.”
Braverman’s contention that the MMP has not worked very well is seen as a clear indication that she is likely to withhold Cabinet backing for any visa concessions for India as part of an FTA. This is in direct conflict with British Prime Minister Liz Truss’ hopes of sticking to the Diwali deadline set for the FTA by her predecessor, Boris Johnson, when he met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April.
Moreover, while the latest Home Office statistics from 2020 show that 20,706 visa overstayers were Indians, the figure is lower in percentage terms than other nationalities. Of the 473,600 Indians whose visas were due to expire in the 12 months to March 2020, 452,894 have left, meaning 4.4 per cent of them overstayed their visa. In comparison, 19,000 Chinese migrants overstayed their visas over the same period (8 per cent) and migrants from the Philippines, Pakistan and Nigeria overstayed their visas by 7 to 9 per cent.
The Labour Convention of Indian Organisations (LCIO) diaspora group hit back at Braverman’s comments as a failure to fully acknowledge the contributions made by the British Indian community.
MORE LIKE THIS…
The LCIO statement said: “Braverman’s comments fail to acknowledge the value that the British Indian community adds to Britain. She overlooks how Indians and others from across the world fill the skills shortages here particularly in our NHS [National Health Service], something which right wing politicians are intent on destroying.
“Braverman clearly doesn’t understand how well-integrated the community is – from plugging economic skills gaps to staffing her own political party.”