UK PM Boris Johnson cancels his visit to India due to COVID-19
The British PM will instead hold a virtual meeting with Prime Minister Modi to launch their plans for the future UK-India Partnership.
The Prime Minister of Britain Boris Johnson on April 19, 2021, canceled his trip to India due to the Coronavirus pandemic. He was scheduled to visit India on April 25.
According to the statement by the Ministry of External Affairs, the British PM will instead hold a virtual meeting with Prime Minister Modi later in April 2021 to launch their plans for the future UK-India Partnership.
The MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi while responding to Mr. Johnson's visit stated that in view of the Coronavirus situation, it has been decided by the mutual agreement that UK PM will not be visiting India and that the two sides will hold a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a transformed India-UK relationship.
He added that both the leaders attach high importance to take the partnership between the two nations to its fullest potential and propose to remain in close touch in this regard. Both PM Modi and PM Boris Johnson look forward to an in-person meeting later in 2021.
In view of the #COVID19 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: MEA pic.twitter.com/RVpQD9JIwf— ANI (@ANI) April 19, 2021
Last week, PM Johnson's office had announced that his visit to India will be shortened. It was originally organized for three days and was set to begin on April 26, 2021.
UK PM faces pressure from opposition over his visit to India:
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom had been facing continuous pressure from the opposition Labour Party who was questioning why PM cannot meet PM Modi online to discuss bilateral relations.
The Labour party had argued that the UK government has been telling people not to travel so why can't PM Johnson can conduct his business with the Indian Government over zoom.
Why UK PM's visit was significant?
It was supposed to be UK Prime Minister's first major bilateral visit outside Europe since the UK general elections in 2019 as well as the conclusion of the Brexit transition period at the end of December 2020.
Boris Johnson's visit to India was aimed at strengthening the investment, trade ties, and cooperation in various fields including security, defence, climate change, and health.
The visit followed an invitation from PM Modi, who took part in a climate summit that was hosted by Britain earlier in 2021.
The Prime Minister of Britain had earlier cancelled his trip to India in January 2021 because of the surge in Coronavirus cases in the UK. He was invited to be the Chief Guest of Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 2021.
In June 2021, the UK will be hosting G7 Summit where PM Modi is a special invitee. COP26 is also scheduled to take place later in 2021 in the United Kingdom.