"I won't be able to go ahead with the trip."
Due to the Covid-19 situation in India, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his trip there, saying it was “only sensible” to do so.
The PM was due to travel to India on April 26, 2021.
Since April 15, 2021, India has been seeing more than 200,000 cases on a daily basis.
Instead, Mr Johnson will now speak to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi online.
The trip to India was originally meant to take place in January 2021 but was cancelled due to the UK’s third national lockdown.
The UK government had hoped the visit would boost trade and investment ties, and move the two countries closer to securing a post-Brexit trade agreement.
But the spread of an Indian Covid-19 strain had led some to suggest the trip should not go ahead.
On April 18, 2021, India recorded 1,620 deaths from the virus and Delhi was put into lockdown.
UK health officials are investigating whether the variant spreads more easily and is more resistant to the vaccine.
According to Public Health England, 73 cases have been detected in England, and four in Scotland.
India is not currently on the UK government’s ‘red list‘ and Dr Susan Hopkins, the chief medical advisor for NHS Test and Trace, said the UK did not have enough data yet to determine if India should be put on the list.
Boris Johnson said: “The red list is very much a matter for the independent UK Health Security Agency – they will have to take that decision.”
He said that the cancelled visit to India was “frustrating” but “Narendra Modi and I have basically come to the conclusion that, very sadly, I won’t be able to go ahead with the trip.
“I do think it’s only sensible to postpone, given what’s happened in India, the shape of the pandemic there.”
“Countries around the world including our own have been through this – I think everybody’s got a massive amount of sympathy with India, what they’re going through.”
Mr Johnson stated that the relationship between the UK and India is of “huge importance”.
It was previously said that Mr Johnson’s India trip would be scaled down, with most of the meetings taking place on April 26, 2021, rather than across four days.
But the Labour Party argued that the trip should be cancelled completely.
The party’s shadow communities minister, Steve Reed, explained that he did not understand “why the prime minister can’t conduct his business with the Indian government by Zoom”.
Following the second cancellation of the visit to India, Mr Johnson and Mr Modi have remained in regular contact and would meet in person later in 2021.