Rishi Sunak vows not to accept wrong India trade deal – ‘I won’t be rushed’

The Prime Minister has insisted he will not “sacrifice quality for speed” in his quest to secure a bumper trade deal with India.

Rishi Sunak called it “vital” that the UK strengthens its relationship with the country but stopped short of setting a timeline for an agreement.

He said: “Without question, India is going to be one of the most significant countries geopolitically over the next years and decades, and 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.

“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.

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“Of course, 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.”

Mr Sunak and his counterpart in India are set to meet for talks on Saturday at the G20 summit.

London and New Delhi had a £36 billion trading relationship in 2022/23 but Mr Sunak is set to want to finalise an economy-boosting post-Brexit trade agreement with the country that has a population of 1.4 billion people.

Mr Sunak could also discuss the case of British man Jagtar Singh Johal who is facing the death penalty when he meets Narendra Modi.

More than 70 MPs signed a letter urging the PM to call on Mr Modi to “immediately release” the blogger, 36.

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Mr Sunak said: “Both the Foreign Secretary and actually Foreign Office Ministers have raised this case on multiple occasions with their counterparts. We understand what his family are going through and want to make sure that the process works and that justice is done appropriately as well.“

When asked whether he would be raising the issue directly, he said: “I’ll be raising a range of things with Prime Minister Modi.

“This is something that, just so people are reassured, has already been raised on multiple levels on multiple occasions.”

Mr Johal remains in prison in India six years after being detained.

He faces eight charges of conspiracy to murder, linked to political violence in India. His family say court proceedings have started but been adjourned repeatedly.

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