United Kingdom Prime Minister has cancelled his upcoming trip to India, citing the steadily increasing in COVID-19 cases in India. The UK PM was supposed to visit India on April 25. Johnson will instead speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month to launch their plans for the future UK-India partnership, with their physical meeting expected later in the year.
A statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said, "In view of the prevailing Covid situation, it has been decided by mutual agreement that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will not visit India next week. The two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a transformed India-U.K. relationship. Both leaders attach the highest importance to taking the India-U.K. partnership to its fullest potential and propose to remain in close touch in this regard and look forward to an in-person meeting later in the year."
This is the second time the UK Prime Minister has cancelled his trip to India this year. Earlier, Boris Johnson was scheduled to be the chief guest for India's Republic Day 2021 celebrations. However, on January 5, Boris cancelled his visit owing to a rise in coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom.
"In the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week, Downing Street said on Monday in a joint statement on behalf of the British and Indian governments. "Instead, Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India. They will remain in regular contact beyond this, and look forward to meeting in person later this year, the statement said.
Pressure had been mounting on Johnson to call off the visit amid growing concerns of a new variant of COVID-19 detected in the country. Over the weekend, UK Opposition Labour Party joined calls for him to conduct the discussions remotely via Zoom and cancel the physical visit, which had already been shortened to focus on a day-long packed schedule on Monday, April 26.
The visit, previously postponed from a Republic Day tour in January, was to be the first major bilateral visit for Johnson outside Europe since the UK general election in December 2019 and the conclusion of the Brexit transition period at the end of December 2020.