Brexit trade deal warning: Rishi Sunak admits India pact 'not a given' despite months of talks

​Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak said the UK would not rush into a deal with New Delhi

Christopher Hope

By Christopher Hope

Published: 08/09/2023

- 14:03

Rishi Sunak said the UK would not rush into a deal with New Delhi

Rishi Sunak has insisted that the UK will not be rushed into a post-Brexit trade deal with India by "artificial deadlines", saying that a wide-ranging arrangement is "not a given".

The Prime Minister made clear on a flight to the G20 meeting of world leaders in Delhi that it was not "a given" that a comprehensive free trade deal will be signed.

It was reported on Friday that Indian negotiators had previously been demanding more visas for nurses and IT professionals as the price of a deal with the UK.

However, Number 10 has insisted this week that any free trade agreement would only focus on “trade and business”, adding: “Immigration is a separate issue.”

Asked about how close the UK was to a deal, Sunak said: “Without question, India is going to be one of the most significant countries geopolitically over the next years and decades.

“It’s vitally important for the UK to deepen our ties particularly economically and more broadly with India, so that’s why we’ve been working towards an ambitious and comprehensive free trade deal, but it’s not a given."

He added: "These things are a lot of work and a lot of time.

"That’s why I’ve never put artificial deadlines on these trade deals, I’ve always said we shouldn’t sacrifice quality for speed. And we need to end up with something that works genuinely for both sides.

"Every time I see prime minister Modi it’s something we check in at, but that’s not the main purpose of this visit and this trip.

"There’s lots of other things we’re going to be discussing and work on that is ongoing.”

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