Boris Johnson opens door to more immigration from India as he bids for trade deal

The Prime Minister is hoping to secure a trade deal with India “by the end of the year”

Published

Mr Johnson says he has “always been in favour of having people come to this country".

Speaking from his plane, he hinted that relaxed rules for Indian immigrants could be offered in exchange for a speedy tariff-free deal.

He said: "We have a massive shortage in the UK, not least in experts in IT and programmers.

"We're short to the tune of hundreds of thousands in our economy.

"We need to have a professional approach but it has to be controlled."

It came as Mr Johnson was presented with a copy of a guide to London written by Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to the Indian independence leader’s ashram in Gujarat.

Boris Johnson in India
Boris Johnson in India
Boris Johnson is hoping for a trade deal with India
Boris Johnson is hoping for a trade deal with India

The Prime Minister remarked that “vegetarianism costs far less than meat-eating” as he read on Thursday from the book designed to be a guide for how Indians could manage in London in the late 19th century.

While flying to India for his two-day visit, Mr Johnson told reporters on the plane his own favourite curry is lamb rogan josh, rather than a meat-free variety.

The Sabarmati Ashram, which was the centre of the peace leader’s non-violent struggle against British rule, was one of the first stops for Mr Johnson during his visit to Ahmedabad.

Mr Johnson also draped a ring of khadi cloth around a statue of Gandhi, who studied law at University College London during his time in Britain.

After removing his shoes, Mr Johnson remarked: “There’s always a panic that the socks are going to let you down.”

Two women showed the Prime Minister how to spin the cloth promoted by Gandhi on a traditional wheel, with Mr Johnson telling them: “It’s a bit of an art, this spinning.”

Mr Johnson signed a guestbook, writing that it was an “immense privilege” to learn about how Gandhi “mobilised such simple principles of truth and non-violence to change the world for the better”.

From the ashram, Mr Johnson was driven to a meeting with Gautam Adani, the billionaire industrialist whose Adani Group has been plagued by controversy and allegations ranging from environmental abuse to tax evasion.