The British Prime Minister cancels his first major overseas visit since coming to power in 2019 as coronavirus cases increase in India.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has canceled his delayed trip to India next week, his first major overseas visit since coming to power in 2019, as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the South Asian nation.
Johnson’s visit, which was part of a post-Brexit trade campaign, was initially scheduled to last four days, with the British leader flying on April 25 and officially starting his visit the next day.
However, a spokesperson for Johnson said last week that the “main body” of the Prime Minister’s travel schedule had been cut, with much of the meetings taking place only on April 26.
On Monday it was confirmed that the trip had been canceled, the second time this year after a previously scheduled trip in January was postponed.
“In view of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to visit India next week,” a joint statement from the British and Indian governments said on Monday.
“Instead, Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future UK-India partnership. They will stay in regular contact beyond that, and look forward to meeting in person later this year.
The visit was originally scheduled for January and presented as an opportunity for Britain to refocus its international trade policy in the aftermath of Brexit as it pursues a so-called “global Britain” strategy.
But the increase in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Britain earlier this year caused its delay.
Today, the surge in infections in India – where authorities have recorded five consecutive days of more than 200,000 cases – have led to its complete cancellation.
A weeklong lockdown has been imposed on New Delhi from Monday evening in an attempt to contain a spike in cases that have overloaded the city’s hospitals.
The visit aimed to strengthen trade ties, investment and cooperation in various fields, including defense, security, health and climate change.
It followed an invitation from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who attended a climate summit in London earlier this year.
Johnson highlighted the two countries’ burgeoning trade and investment relationship, worth an estimated £ 24 billion ($ 32 billion) a year.