UK PM Boris Johnson’s Visit to India Next Week Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Situation

UK PM Boris Johnson’s Visit to India Next Week Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Situation


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his April 25 visit to India due to current coronavirus situation. He will instead hold a virtual meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month to launch their plans for the future UK-India partnership, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

In view of the the alarming COVID-19 situation, it has been decided by mutual agreement that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson 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-UK relationship, said the Ministry of External Affairs on Monday.

"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-UK relationship. Both leaders attach the highest importance to taking the India-UK 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," said Arindam Bagchi, the official MEA Spokesperson in a response to media queries on Mr Johnson's visit.

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 facing 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.

The visit was aimed at strengthening trade ties, investment and cooperation in various areas, including defence, security, health and climate change.

It followed an invitation from PM Modi, who took part in a climate summit hosted by London earlier this year.