British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his visit to India. In December 2019, he had accepted an invitation to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations on 26 January as chief guest. John Major, the then British PM had attended Indian Republic Day celebration as the Chief Guest in 1993.
“In light of the national lockdown announced last night, and the speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading, the Prime Minister said that it was important for him to remain in the UK so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus,” states the UK release.
The British PM said that he hopes to be able to visit India in the first half of 2021, and ahead of the UK’s G7 Summit that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to attend as a guest. It remains to been seen if the Indian PM will follow the British PM’s example and cancel his visit in view of the prevailing situation in India and the farmer’s protest which has resulted in death of many farmers.
“Prime Minister Johnson reiterated his thanks for India’s invitation for him as the Chief Guest of the forthcoming Republic Day celebrations, but regretted his inability to attend in view of the changed COVID-19 context prevailing in the UK. He reiterated his keenness to visit India in the near future,” confirmed the Indian press release.
India and the UK had agreed on an agreement of a ‘360-degree roadmap’ for upgrading bilateral relations which was scheduled to be adopted during Johnson’s visit.
The British also appointed Mr Alex Ellis CMG as the British High Commissioner to India. He succeeds Sir Philip Barton KCMG OBE. The new High Commissioner is scheduled to take charge in January 2021.
It may be recalled that US President Donald Trump had visited India just before the Coronavirus Pandemic lockdown and the Indian government had gathered a large number of crowds for his speech and rest of the engagements. The British PM was invited at a time when India accounts for 10.4 million COVID-19 cases out of worlds total of 85.9 million cases and the UK has a new strain of Corona Virus which the rest of the world is trying to contain it by banning flights, screening passengers and sealing of borders with the UK.