August 29, 2023
NEW DELHI – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has found himself surrounded by a fresh conflict of interest controversy ahead of the G20 Summit in New Delhi where he is expected to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal with India. According to reports, there are claims that his wife Akshata Murthy, who owns shares worth around 500 million pounds in her parents’ India-based international tech giant Infosys, could stand to benefit financially from the deal.
The Indian-origin British prime minister is likely to hold a separate bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit to finalise the India-UK trade deal. Sunak’s critics and the Opposition Labour Party say Infosys could be a beneficiary of the trade deal.
According to a UK media report, Labour and the chair of the all-party House of Commons Business and Trade Select Committee Saturday raised “potential transparency issues” relating to the British PM’s wife and suggested he recuse himself from trade deal negotiations.
“As the prime minister recently learned, it’s important he declares any interests properly. I expect him to do so in respect of the India trade deal too,” Darren Jones, the Labour chair of the business and trade select committee was quoted as saying in the report.
India-UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations in final stage
Earlier last week, UK Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch held intensive talks with Indian government officials in New Delhi on the prospective Free Trade Agreement between India and the UK. Speaking to reporters in Jaipur, Badenoch had said that the deal was in the final stage of negotiations.
She, however, said that visa liberalization for Indians was a separate immigration issue that didn’t fall in the ambit of the FTA. The UK is one of the largest European markets for Indian IT services and more visas for its workers has been New Delhi’s key demand during the trade negotiations.
If any more visa relaxations are given to Indians, Infosys would hugely benefit from the move. The tech giant has contracts with the British government as well as several UK companies. Infosys wants easier access to the UK for its thousands of employees.