Blame game erupts as Government DITCHES end-of-month deadline for trade deal with India and accuses New Delhi of ‘weaponising’ tight timeline to secure concessions
- Government ditches end-of-month deadline for securing a trade deal with India
- Ministers had hoped to reach agreement by the Diwali festival on October 24
- Blame game sees New Delhi accused of ‘weaponising’ tight timeline for talks
- PM Liz Truss also blasted for chasing a deal ‘at any cost’ and messaging ministers
A blame game has broken out after the Government ditched an end-of-month deadline for securing a trade deal with India.
Ministers had hoped to reach an agreement with New Delhi by the Diwali festival on October 24.
But International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has now confirmed negotiators are no longer working to secure a deal by that date.
India has been accused of having ‘weaponised’ the deadline in order to try and secure last-minute concessions in talks.
But Prime Minister Liz Truss has also been blamed for scuppering the talks.
She has been blasted for chasing a deal ‘at any cost’ and for messaging Indian ministers over the heads of negotiators.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s recent criticism of Indian migrants is also said to sunk the chances of an agreement by infuriating New Delhi.
PM Liz Truss has been blasted for chasing a deal ‘at any cost’ and for messaging Indian ministers over the heads of negotiators
International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has confirmed negotiators are no longer working to secure a deal by the end of this month
Boris Johnson and Indian PM Narendra Modi set the Diwali deadline for getting a trade deal over the line in April this year
Downing Street yesterday insisted the Government still wanted to conclude a trade deal with India by Diwali.
But, just hours later, Ms Badenoch confirmed officials were no longer working towards the October 24 deadline.
She told the BBC: ‘We are close. We’re still working on a deal. One of the things that has changed is that we are no longer working to the Diwali deadline.’
Ms Badenoch insisted that negotiations were ‘progressing well’ but blamed this summer’s change of PM and the recent mourning period for the Queen for the delay in completing a deal.
‘We want to focus on the quality of the deal rather than the speed of the deal,’ she said.
Ms Badenoch refused to give a new date for when an agreement might be reached.
A Whitehall source told The Times the Diwali deadline had been ‘weaponised’ by Indian negotiators to try and force last-minute concessions.
‘At the end of the day, this deal has to work for Britain and when we looked at what was on offer it was clear that it wasn’t a good deal,’ the source said.
‘We don’t want to be rushed into signing a deal and would rather invest more time in getting it right.’
But blame was also heaped on No10 with Ms Truss claimed to have been regularly messaging Piyush Goyal, the Indian minister of commerce and industry.
A source at the Department of International Trade told the same newspaper: ‘She has been messaging him directly. What is the point in dealing with your negotiating team when the prime minister wants a deal at any cost?
‘She wants a deal at any cost, she just wants a signing ceremony. But she’s utterly scuppered the potential to get anything worthwhile for the UK.
‘This deal died in Downing Street with Liz Truss as the executioner.’
Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s recent criticism of Indian migrants is also said to sunk the chances of an agreement by infuriating New Delhi
Ms Braverman’s comments about Indian migrants are reported to have infuriated New Delhi with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi having abandoned plans to visit the UK to sign a trade deal this month.
In an interview with the Spectator magazine last week, Mrs Braverman said she had ‘some reservations’ about reducing visa rules for Indians wishing to come to the UK.
‘I have concerns about having an open borders migration policy with India because I don’t think that’s what people voted for with Brexit,’ she said.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Mr Modi set the Diwali deadline for getting a trade deal over the line in April this year.
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