London/New Delhi: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has canceled his visit to India, hours after he announced a fresh lockdown in the United Kingdom over the new strain of coronavirus that has affected thousands of people in the UK.
Johnson was to be the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi, which was also to be his first bilateral visit after the UK’s departure from the European Union in December. He had accepted the invitation last month.
“The prime minister spoke to Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi this morning, to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned,” read a statement from his Downing Street office.
“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,” the statement read.
“The leaders underlined their shared commitment to the bilateral relationship, and to continuing to build on the close collaboration between our countries — including in response to the pandemic,” it added.
Johnson’s government has announced a complete lockdown for England’s 56 million people, which could last until mid-February.
Johnson would have been the second British Prime Minister to attend the Republic Day parade as the Chief Guest after his predecessor John Major in 1993.