Theresa May meeting business leaders in India's IT capital


Prime Minister Theresa May is visiting the IT capital of India on the final day of a trade mission designed to pave the way for close commercial links with the south Asian giant after Brexit.

Mrs May will meet some of the business leaders and start-up entrepreneurs who have made Bangalore a hub for India's electronics and tech sectors.

She will push the case for closer links between the south Indian city and some of Britain's innovative new companies, including smaller businesses which have accompanied her on her first trade mission as PM.

The three-day trip - Mrs May's first bilateral visit outside Europe - has been dominated by tensions over visas, with Indian PM Narendra Modi putting pressure on the UK to ease restrictions on students and skilled workers coming to Britain.

Mrs May announced new measures to make trips to the UK easier for senior business executives, and she offered to discuss improvements in the visa application process for Indian citizens in return for greater co-operation over the return of migrants who overstay their permission to stay.

But for the Prime Minister, trade has been the priority, with deals totalling around £1 billion sealed during the trip which are expected to create more than 1,300 jobs in the UK.

She issued a warning on Monday of the risks of stagnation and falling incomes if the UK fails to make a determined push for new trade opportunities after Brexit.

"As Britain leaves the EU, we're determined not to turn our backs on the world but to forge a new, global, outward-looking role for ourselves," the PM told a business summit in New Delhi.

"Because we know from history what happens when countries do not embrace the opportunities of the world. They stagnate. They get poorer. They don't protect their people, they make them worse off.

"Of course, no country owes any other country a living. But we stand the greatest chance of success when we work with partners with whom we share similar values, legal systems, approaches to business, and ways of looking at the world."

Although EU rules block the UK from entering formal negotiations on a free trade deal with India until withdrawal is complete, Mrs May has made clear she is determined to do the groundwork for an early post-Brexit agreement and to tackle barriers to trade which can be dealt with immediately.

Her trip has seen memorandums of understanding signed on intellectual property rights and the ease of doing business in India, and she and Mr Modi agreed to co-operate on cyber-security and tackling violent extremists online.