Did Theresa May go to India to deliver a snub in person?

Britain's new Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Bute House, in Edinburgh, on July 15, 2016 after a visit to hold talks with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Theresa May visited Scotland for talks with the First Minister less than 48 hours after taking office as British prime minister. / AFP PHOTO


The Guardian has reported that Theresa May has refused to be cooperative with India on the issue of visas. But if that is the case then why did she go to India?

If Brexit is to happen and we need new trading partners few come bigger than India. But to keep good relations with India then relationships have to be built. And that means movement of people, which is precisely what May is seeking to close down.

Staggeringly, not only is she closing down work visas, her government is committed to including students in targets for net migration – something that even Enoch Powell did not do.

As an academic I am already seeing the consqeunce: overseas applications  to UK university courses are declining. This can only get worse, and if May continues the strategy she appears to be committed to the consequences will be profound. We cannot expect to trade with people to whom we close the doors of opprtunity and the exchange of ideas, but that is what she is intent on.

Why did she go to India then? Was it to deliver the snub in person?


15 Responses to “Did Theresa May go to India to deliver a snub in person?”

  1. Sean Danaher says:

November 7 2016 at 11:30 am

Some years ago when the US became paranoid after 9/11 we had a major recruitment drive in India which was highly successful. As Programme Director Postgraduate I used to look after dozens of Indian students (some years it may have been over 100) on our MSc Engineering courses. Indeed I traveled to India with the recruitment team. One big selling point was that Engineering MSc students were guaranteed a 24 month period to work in the UK after graduation. Since 2010 however the numbers have nearly dried up. Theresa May’s home office made it much more difficult for the students and the automatic right to work disappeared.

The US is now much more welcoming and Australia sees a growing market. I’d be surprised if we had more than a handful of Indian students now. The feedback I got from the overseas team a few years ago was that Indians no longer felt welcome in the UK and that they were choosing to go elsewhere.

India should be a natural trading partner for the UK. Millions of educated Indians speak English well and there are strong historic links. There should be plenty of opportunity to increase trade as the UK is in 18th place https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_largest_trading_partners_of_India; well behind Switzerland and Germany, and even behind Belgium.

India is a rapidly growing economy. Before Brexit the 5th 6th and 7th place for GDP rankings were the UK, France and India. I’m not sure now but suspect the order has reversed because of a nose diving pound and slow growth rate in France.

There was a lot of resentment of the Foreign Office changes to visa terms for Indian students since 2010 during May’s time as Home Secretary – apparent to our overseas team when visiting India. I’m not sure how widely this extends as of course they dealt with the people most directly impacted.

I can’t help thinking however that there will be considerable resentment and that May will have an uphill struggle and will be seen in a similar light to Boris by the Europeans. There is history here and May will have an uphill struggle.


  1. Tom says:

November 7 2016 at 11:43 am

What’s wrong with including student numbers in immigration stats?

If, as is often claimed, the student population is a steady state where roughly the same number are leaving as coming then there is no net effect, even if they are hanging around for a few years to work. And if it isn’t, well, its a flow of inward migration that should be counted.

Choosing an immigration cap is a political decision, but to decide on that cap, and measure your success is meeting it requires an accurate and fair statistic.


November 7 2016 at 12:52 pm

But you think a student comes thinking they must leave?

What if they want to continue their studies, as is commonplace? Why not go to a country where that is possible than a place where is is uncertain

Your literal approach ignores the human factor

I suggest learning some empathy


  1. Pilgrim Slight Return says:

November 7 2016 at 11:45 am

Looking at this and the way in which BREXIT is being dealt with too, what I see is Tory electioneering for 2020 – being seen to be responding to the anti-immigration agenda so that they simply get voted in again.

By getting voted in again, they can finish Cameron’s/Osbourne’s (Maud and Letwin’s) destruction of the public sector and the role of the state. A sort of Tory equivalent of the Pol Pot ‘Year Zero’ policy where the aggressors wear blue scarves and speak with posh English accents instead and where there is a simple rich and poor divide in society with very little (if any) middle class (because there is hardly anything industrial going on anymore which basically led to the formation/expansion of the middle class in the first place in this country).

I think that it is important that we realise this now – that the Tories don’t really care what else is harmed by their ideology or by reaching their objective (which is to destroy our nation state and have it broken up into little kingdoms of the rich).

We can only hope that some balance is introduced from within the Tory party but that maybe too little, too late. For progressives and liberals, Tory intransigence is going to be a huge issue.

I know that by portraying the Tories as not caring I am essentially dehumanising them as a precursor to conflict, but it has to be said that their policies with regard to immigration, benefits, housing and the growth of food banks for example all point to the Tories dehumanising complex social issues in a most callous way.

They have gone much further than Thatcher in my view and this is actually their biggest weakness. Their lack of moderation is telling. We will hurt for along time yet. But their ultimate end is in the DNA of what they do.


November 7 2016 at 3:58 pm

Like you I am tempted to take the view that the Tories are locked into a “destroy the UK” shtick. That would imply staggering callousness. I’d suggest instead a remarkable attachment to ideology (markets etc) and a remarkable level of stupidity (or insanity = doing the same thing time after time expecting a different result). Ultimately I support Richards view – the Tories are only interested in power – which implies a 5 year time horizon – & which, after 37 years of toyr/tory lite has got us to where we are now. If I were the Indians, I’d sneer at the vicars daughter and tell her to go hitch ride/get lost.


  • John D says:

November 7 2016 at 6:58 pm

PSR – you’re so right. It really is that simple and that demonic. I don’t know why anyone cuts them any slack at all. And as Richard has said – they are only interested in achieving power and then hanging on to it by any means they can get away with. There’s an element of ‘Gaslighting’ in their treatment of the electorate and its response. Otherwise intelligent people (I know a few!) really are taken in by their motives and their propaganda. The likes of George Lakoff and Noam Chomsky have spent their professional careers trying to explain the phenomenon. And economists like Michael Hudson, et al. are doing their best to warn the world as to the imminent dangers. But it’s all too complicated for mass consumption.

In Leonardo di Caprio’s new documentary ‘Before the Flood’ it is stated that the climate issue is similarly too complex for most people to get their head around. The only practical solution is TAX (i.e. a global carbon tax). Money seems to be the only vehicle by which to change consumer behaviour. Understanding these complex problems has simply become too difficult for ordinary people – not helped by a rapidly diminishing attention span.

I really don’t know how it is possible to trash the prevailing neo-liberal ‘Junk Economics’ without suffering yet another dramatic financial crash (predicted by many) which, of course, always hits those who can least afford it. In the meantime Theresa May (one of the least competant PMs in recent history) will take the country further down the road to perdition.

The problems and challenges are well articulated by Richard and everyone on this site. And 2 million views is hugely impressive. But, somehow or other, these logically progressive strategies have to be brought into the mainstream urgently. Time really is runing out if we are to avoid an ‘endarkenment’ (le mot juste). Heaven forbid there will be an early GE. The Tory majority will surely increase significantly, cementing them in power for decades to come. Maybe it will all culminate in a revolution. It wouldn’t be the first time. Unfortunately violent revolutions never achieve their long-term objectives.

Apologies for not specifically responding to the Indian student issue – but these are all aspects of the same macro scenario. The last thing the Tories want anyone to do is to join up the dots in order to see the scale of the crime they are committing. Another analogy might be those autostereogram pictures in which it’s really difficult to see the hidden image.

All this in response to PSR’s post which said it all briefer and better than me!


  1. Danny says:

November 7 2016 at 1:09 pm

Hey lets not confuse indian students to others, they will be creaming the top jobs and highest university positions. And they wont stay if better job prospects are elsewhere.


  1. Darren says:

November 7 2016 at 2:46 pm

This visit has damaged Ind-Uk relationships, thats for sure. Reportedly the Indians werent happy with the cost of the visas & stringent restrictions for IT workers. May’s blatant disregard towards the concerns of the Indian PM and MEA during the bilateral talks has made matters worse.
Number of foreign students in the UK has fallen ,mainly because they are not allowed to stay to find a job .

Politicians seem keen to whip up / exploit anti-immigrant prejudice among public .This will damage relationships with countries and consequently cripple major investments.


  1. Nile says:

November 7 2016 at 2:54 pm

If you consider that May’s department kicked out fifty thousand students using fraud at a language school as the pretext, what’s the likelihood that one of the people she hopes to speak to had a neice or nephew unlawfully deported back to India with their academic aspirations trashed?

Theresa May isn’t going to India to deliver a snub: she is going there to be snubbed, repeatedly and very pointedly.


November 7 2016 at 2:57 pm

Nice twist


  1. Darren says:

November 7 2016 at 3:20 pm

Theresa May ,clearly ,is no good at negotiating. The impression that her recent policies and the statements in India give is

” we want business but not your people. Business . Deals. Money . Not students .”


  1. JohnM says:

November 7 2016 at 6:43 pm



  • Sean Danaher says:

November 8 2016 at 9:13 am

Sadly behind a pay wall


  1. John Carlisle says:

November 8 2016 at 7:56 am

Darren makes a very important point, i.e. May is no good at negotiating. The Tories are far too confrontational in their negotiations. They have not the faintest idea of win/win. We are well on the way to a very hard Brexit, with very concessions from the EU due to the immature style of the Tories. Right now they should be getting their civil servants to sit down with the EU equivalents and start scoping the common ground. The politicians need to stay the hell away from the negotiating table as this is clearly an area of supreme incompetence, viz Jeremy Hunt.


  1. John Carlisle says:

November 8 2016 at 7:58 am

Negotiation: sorry I forgot the “few”. It should read very FEW concessions…


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