Boris Johnson: Prime Minister cancels trip to India amid concerns over new Covid variant

Boris Johnson was due to travel to Delhi next week but coronavirus cases in the country are rising

The Prime Minister was due to visit Delhi next week but the trip was scrapped amid rising cases of the virus in India (Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has cancelled his trip to India as concerns grow over a new Covid variant there.

The Prime Minister was due to visit Delhi next week but the already-curtailed trip was scrapped completely on Monday amid rising cases of the virus in the country.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

No 10 said Mr Johnson would instead speak with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi later this month, while they would meet in person some time this year.

The trip, said to be Mr Johnson’s first major international visit since he took office, was first scheduled for January but was cancelled when the UK entered a fresh lockdown.

“In the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week,” a joint statement from the British and Indian governments said.

“Instead, Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India.

“They will remain in regular contact beyond this, and look forward to meeting in person later this year.”

Trip was intended to strengthen ties post-Brexit

The UK Government had plans for the April visit to boost trade and investment ties with India, with the hope that the two countries would move closer to agreeing a post-Brexit trade deal.

But a new “double mutant” Covid variant in India led opposition MPs to suggest that the Prime Minister’s visit should not go ahead.

The country has reported more than 200,000 daily cases since 15 April, while Delhi has been put into lockdown.

Scientists in the UK are currently investigating the new variant to find out whether it spreads more easily and is able to evade the vaccine.

So far, 73 cases of the variant have been detected in England, and four in Scotland.