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UK PM Rishi Sunak faces conflict of interest row over Free Agreement Trade deal with India: Report

The report claimed that some MPs believe Infosys could influence visa rulings in the UK.

Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 London Updated on: August 27, 2023 8:56 IST
UK PM Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murthy
Image Source : @RISHISUNAK/TWITTER UK PM Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murthy

Nearly two days after UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak "inadvertently" broke the code of conduct for MPs by not correctly declaring his wife's financial interest in a childminding company, he has again landed in trouble amid the ongoing trade negotiations with India-- days before he is scheduled to visit India for the upcoming G20 Leaders Summit in New Delhi. 

According to a report by The Guardian, the Indian-origin Prime Minister has been facing a new conflict of interest over claims that his family could stand to benefit financially from a post-Brexit trade deal that he is negotiating with New Delhi.

Why Infosys' name dragged in UK politics?

Notably, India and the United Kingdom have been working on a free trade agreement (FTA) since January last year. As the deal was in the final phase, several MPs and trade experts raised their concerns as they believed the accord could help wife Akshata Murty's father's IT business. 

According to the report, Murty has a massive shareholding of £500m in Bengaluru-based international IT services and consultancy company Infosys. And, the company wants more visas to be issued in order to expand its business in the UK. The report claimed that some MPs believe Infosys could influence visa rulings in the UK. 

Notably, the immigration issue has been a significant issue in London amid the fact the country itself struggling to boost its economy and provide the maximum number of jobs to its own population. Besides, the UK's vote for BREXIT in 2016 also prompted the government to control the migration influx. In fact, this has become a hot topic in the UK elections. As of now, it is not clear whether the UK would agree on visa relaxation, but multiple reports claimed it may allow with some terms and conditions. 

UK Foreign Office warns negotiations team to not visit India this year to avoid conflict of interest

It is worth mentioning the crucial G20 meeting is scheduled in New Delhi for September 9 and 10 where it is expected that Sunak and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will discuss the ongoing trade deal in a bilateral meeting. The MPs who have shown reluctance claimed Sunak could avoid "transparency" in dealing with the ongoing FTA. 

The Observer, a sister paper to The Guardian, said such are the sensitivities over the negotiations and Sunak’s involvement, that the Foreign Office (FCDO) has warned the committee in the strongest terms against conducting a trip to India this autumn to examine issues around a potential deal.

"The committee was advised by the government that it would be better to visit India next year instead of during sensitive trade negotiations," said Jones.

Murty's wealth has been 'haunting' Sunak's political career for a long 

Notably, this was not the first time Sunak's wife's wealth had created a shadow on his political career. Earlier last year, Murty had landed in the same trouble for herself after it was revealed that she holds non-domicile status and hadn't been paying UK tax on overseas earnings. Subsequently, BBC reported then that Murty had saved £2.1 million per year through her “non-dom” status.

Although she clarified that her arrangements were entirely legal and started paying British taxes on those earnings, this mounted trouble for her husband who was in the race for UK PM last year.

Sunak had to face severe criticism from her opponent candidate Liz Truss who charged him and his wife of hiding collective wealth. Last year, even the expensive "teacups" also led to a major controversy in UK politics. Several compared that the cost of crockery may run a family of five members.

Also Read: Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, loses Rs 500 crore in minutes as Infosys shares plunge 9.4%

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