British Prime Minister Boris Johnson canceled his visit to India as Republic Day guest soon after the United Kingdom went under a national lockdown due to the spread of the new coronavirus variant.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday canceled his visit to India citing the need to oversee the Covid-19 pandemic response at home. Johnson was invited as the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi and he had accepted the invitation last month. The cancellation followed hours after the United Kingdom entered fresh lockdown due to the rapid spread of the new strain of coronavirus in the country.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Prime Minister Modi this morning, to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned.” The spokeswoman stated that in light of the national lockdown and the speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading, the prime minister said that it is crucial for him to remain in the United Kingdom so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus.
The statement said that the two leaders underlined their “shared commitment” to the bilateral relationship and to continue to build on the close collaboration between our countries, including in response to the pandemic. It further indicated that Johnson hopes to visit India in the first half of 2021 and before the United Kingdom’s G7 Summit that Indian Prime Minister Modi is due to attend.
Johnson would have been the sixth leader from the United Kingdom to be the chief guest at the Indian Republic Day celebrations if not for the cancellation.