Pact with India sets gold-standard on immigration, says Priti Patel

London, May 24 (PTI) UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Monday described the recently signed Migration and Mobility Partnership (MMP) with India as a new “gold-standard” for immigration, which will open up opportunities for thousands of British and Indian citizens to live and work legally in each other’s countries.

In a major speech to mark the launch of a 'New Plan for Immigration', the Indian-origin Cabinet minister referenced the MMP signed with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during his London visit earlier this month as a “ground-breaking” initiative that tackles illegal migration in both countries and paves the way for the UK government’s “firm but fair” post-Brexit immigration system.

“Earlier this month, I signed a ground-breaking agreement with India. It tackles illegal migration, both in the UK and in India, accelerating the process of those who have no legal right to stay,” said Patel.

'But it also gives opportunities for thousands of British and Indian citizens to live and work legally in each other’s countries. This agreement shows the way forward as we strive for a new gold-standard for immigration – one which is both fair and firm,” she said.

Under the MMP, the UK and India have agreed to work towards an April 2022 timeline to bring in new systems in place which will include a new “bespoke” plan for 18 to 30 year olds to apply for a 24-month stay to live and work in either country and also speedier deportation of illegal migrants, including streamlining extradition processes.

Patel’s speech on Monday, addressed to the think tank British Future, was timed for the launch of proposals for a new “fully digital border” regime over the next few years, which the minister said will provide the ability to count people in and count people out of the country.

“We are working on further reforms, including Electronic Travel Authorisations, as part of a simpler and more secure, universal permissions to travel requirement,” the minister said.

“Our new plan will make it easier to identify potential threats before they reach the border, through targeted and effective interventions from co-ordinated multi-agency operations,” she said.

Patel, whose Gujarati-origin family migrated from Uganda in the 1970s, reflected on her own journey as she laid out her plans to get tough on immigration crime and fix the UK’s “broken” asylum system to take “back control of immigration”.

“Immigration is part of my own story. My family were forced from Uganda and they had the privilege to make a home in the UK. They worked ferociously hard to keep a roof over our heads and secure a life for my family,” recalled the 49-year-old senior Conservative Party leader.

“I am proud as a Briton and I am proud of my parents and of my British Indian background. And I join the millions of British Indians and children of migrant families who have established a life in one of the greatest countries in the world. But there are many who struggle with this concept,” she said.

The minister pointed to the 2016 referendum in favour of Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) as a sign of the silent majority who look to the Conservative Party led government to establish appropriate measures and border controls on who comes to and settles in the UK.

“I believe in fairness and in law and order... The simple reality is it is not possible for everyone who wants to come and live here to do so. The concept of ‘open borders’ is a flawed one,” she noted.

Her speech coincides with the UK Home Office laying out details of its ‘New Plan for Immigration’, which intends to transform the country’s border management over the next four years. The implementation of an end-to-end digital system and streamlining of visa processes will lie at the heart of the changes planned. PTI AK AMS AKJ AMS

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