Downing Street has insisted there are no plans to give out more student visas in a bid to secure a trade deal with India.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is said to have raised concerns at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting about India’s reported desire for any trade deal to include a relaxation in the visa regime.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I can’t get into what was or was not discussed in Cabinet.
“I think there’s an important points to stress on visas: The Prime Minister has been clear he believes that the current levels of migration are too high. He and the Home Secretary, indeed the immigration minister are united in their commitment to reducing net migration.
“I can’t comment on the details of ongoing negotiations, but to be crystal clear, there are no plans to change our immigration policy to achieve this free trade agreement. That includes student visas.”
READ MORE Sunak faces backlash over fears India trade deal will trigger influx of students
The official indicated an expansion of business visas would potentially be considered.
He said: “The mobility provisions that are considered as part of trade deals as standard relate to the temporary movement of business people. We are not looking to change our approach to student visas as part of this free trade deal.”
The Home Secretary has previously been vocal about her “reservations” about an increase in migrant numbers, with 1.2 million arrivals last year. Insiders said the Prime Minister listened carefully to the Home Secretary’s concerns and “nodded along” at Tuesday’s meeting.
Rishi Sunak is set to arrive in New Delhi on Friday morning for the G20 summit while negotiations continue over a post-Brexit trade deal.
He is expected to hold talks with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and could return to the nation within weeks to sign off a deal.
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Meanwhile the Home Office spent £2 million a year on private boats to collect empty migrant dinghies, a leaked document has revealed.
The money from taxpayers allows the vessels to head out on the English Channel and collect abandoned small boats after migrants have been safely moved onto a Border Force or RNLI vessel.
A leaked document shows the Home Office paid £577,000 every three months to Maritime Craft Services, a business based in the west of Scotland, for using their two vessels to recover migrant boats.
A fisherman said: “This is a total waste of money and adds unnecessary pollution and traffic to the Channel.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “All Home Office commercial contracts are designed to ensure the best value for taxpayers.”
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