New Delhi, April 19, 2021: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his April 25 visit to India due to current coronavirus situation, Downing Street said today.
Mr 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.
"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 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.
The Ministry of External Affairs said that the two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days, reported news agency ANI.
Mr Johnson’s office had last week announced the visit would be shortened. It was originally organised to span three days and set to begin on April 26.
He had been under mounting pressure over the scheduled visit with opposition Labour Party questioning why the UK Prime Minister cannot meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi online to discuss bilateral relations.
"The Government is telling people don’t travel if you don’t have to absolutely travel and I can’t see why the Prime Minister can’t conduct his business with the Indian government by Zoom. So many of us do that these days and I think the Prime Minister, all of us in public life, need to try and set an example so I’d much rather the Prime Minister did it by Zoom than by travelling to India," said Labour Party’s Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed.
The visit, previously postponed from a Republic Day tour in January, was supposed to be the first major bilateral visit by the British Prime Minister outside Europe since the UK general election in December 2019 and the conclusion of the Brexit transition period at the end of December 2020.