Theresa May’s first trip outside Europe since becoming prime minister has made the front pages of most Indian newspapers, with one suggesting that “stringent” British visa regulations for Indian nationals may hamper the prospects of a post-Brexit partnership deal.
Writing under the headline “Visa cloud over trade ties as British PM Theresa May arrives in India”, Jayanth Jacob of leading daily Hindustan Times said “the stringent visa regulations by the British cast a shadow over the prospect of the two countries hammering out an ambitious trade and investment partnership post-Brexit”.
Jacob quoted S Irudayarajan, migration expert and consultant for government on mobility issues, as saying that “India is an important country for the UK. And curbing the flow of good minds whether they are students or skilled workers is not good for the UK”.
Reflecting similar sentiments, The Times of India published an editorial titled “Muddled May”.
“As the second largest global job creator in Britain and its third largest source of foreign direct investment, India finds these British policies both objectionable and puzzling. How does the UK hope to forge closer trade ties with India while growing increasingly disagreeable to Indian trade professionals?”
A UK-India free trade agreement would be a “non-starter as long as the visa issue isn’t sorted”, added the Times of India.
In an opinion piece on news portal DailyO headlined: “Post-Brexit, Britain is no lure for Indian students, and Theresa May’s no help”, columnist K Srinivasan notes that “Britain used to be the preferred destination for higher education, coupled with lucrative employment in related fields of study, for people from many countries, including India. But not any more, as the country’s immigration laws get tighter and the impact of Brexit surfaces slowly”.
Business daily The Economic Times in a piece headlined “Where great minds meet” concurs, saying: “With the contentious issue of immigration in the background, PM May has her hands full on this visit to India, seeking a quick and favourable trade deal, while looking to project the UK as a truly global and forward looking nation.”
Television channel NDTV also notes that: “IT professionals have asked how there can be better trade, with Mrs May’s government making it tougher for Indian professionals to travel to that country with tougher new rules for visa and immigration.”