UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the strikes were helping degrade the Huthis' ability to launch attacks on ships
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing fresh allegations as a report revealed trade minister Lord Dominic Johnson assuring executives from Indian IT firm Infosys of VIP access to lucrative trade deals which has led the Labour party to claim that VIP trade channels like the PPE scam still exist within the Tory government. AFP News

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is in a soup after trade minister Dominic Johnson revealed that he gave VIP access to Sunak's father-in-law's Indian IT firm Infosys.

The Indian company Infosys is owned by Rishi Sunak's father-in-law Narayan Murty and his wife Akshata Murty has partial ownership in it. The allegations have surfaced as the Prime Minister is trying to clean his image ahead of the general elections.

As per media reports Trade Minister Dominic Johnson discussed special privileges for Infosys UK in Bengaluru earlier last year. The minister had allegedly told Infosys executives that he would "do what he could" to help the company do business in the UK during that meeting in India.

At present Rishi Sunak's wife Akshara Murty has a 0.91 per cent stake in the Indian IT firm which has a value of over £500 million. She received dividends worth £13 million from Infosys in the last financial year which helped in making Sunak the richest Prime Minister of the country.

According to the readout from the April 27, 2023 meeting held in Bengaluru, Lord Dominic Johnson made it clear that he was interested in seeing a bigger presence of Infosys in the UK business sector and "would be happy to do what he could to facilitate that".

A brief from the Infosys meeting revealed that it would be good to reassure the Indian IT firm "on the prospects for the UK economy" and remind them of the support that the UK government "can provide through DBT [Department for Business and Trade]".

The minister asserted it further when he said: "We value the relationship with Infosys and will continue to engage at a ministerial level when requested of us."

Meanwhile, the opposition has lapped up the opportunity to further accuse the Tory government of discrepancies and corruption as the Labour Party suggested that the Infosys VIP access allegations are a reminder of the presence of the VIP lane of business where firms get in touch with Tory ministers to bag lucrative deals similar to the personal protective equipment (PPE) scam during COVID.

The Shadow Paymaster General, Jonathan Ashworth said the Tories have questions to answer as they " handed billions in taxpayers' cash to cronies for duff PPE" and now "the public will wonder why an outfit so personally close to Rishi Sunak appears to have been granted this VIP access".

Is the Prime Minister's family benefiting from government policies?

Earlier in 2022 when Rishi Sunak was the UK chancellor, his wife Akshata Murty paid the UK tax for all her overseas income but refused to pay taxes for backdated income over a row about her non-domicile tax status. Sunak's wife had cited non-domiciled UK resident law which doesn't require her to pay UK taxes on foreign income.

Further allegations surfaced against the Prime Minister's wife that year, accusing her of collecting blood money in the form of dividends as Infosys continued operations in Russia despite sanctions against the country after Putin invaded Ukraine.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had asked all UK companies to pull out of Russia at that time but Infosys still maintained business. However, the Indian IT firm later said it was closing down its Moscow office.

Earlier in January, Sunak's wife had to forfeit her shares in the company Koru Kids to charity over concerns about getting benefits from the UK government's policies. This decision was prompted after the UK parliament's standards watchdog alleged that Rishi Sunak had breached the code of conduct as he failed to disclose his wife's shareholding and assets. The company allegedly benefited from the UK childcare policy announced in the spring budget.

Similar conflict of interest concerns have been raised regarding the Prime Minister's family benefiting from the post-Brexit free trade agreement (FTA) negotiated with India.

Infosys is widely known for its attempts to improve access for thousands of its contract workers through the new changes in the UK visa rules. This comes at a time when the Sunak government is trying to control immigration rates with new legal migration measures like increasing the minimum salary threshold for overseas workers.

One of the points cited in the April Infosys meeting in India marked the objective of the VIP access was to "reassure that the FTA will further create new opportunities and investor-friendly policies to support business growth". The trade minister assured Infosys executives that they could gain advantages through the high-potential individual visa scheme.

Speaking about the controversy, a spokesperson from the Department for Business and Trade said: "The investment minister regularly meets businesses and international investors, including a range of Indian businesses, to champion the UK as an investment destination and secure commitments worth billions of pounds."

"That engagement drives investment across the UK, creating thousands of high-quality jobs and boosting the UK economy," the DBT spokesperson added.