New Delhi: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday cancelled his Republic Day visit to Indian, citing the need to oversee the COVID-19 pandemic response at home, throwing open the question, who will be the chief guest now? Britain began its third COVID-19 lockdown on Tuesday.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Prime Minister Modi this morning, to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned,” a Downing Street spokeswoman was quoted as saying by The Indian Express (TIE).
“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 spokeswoman was quoted as saying.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to be able to visit India in the first half of 2021, and ahead of the UK’s G7 Summit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to attend as a guest,” the UK government further said.
Confirming the development, government sources said, “Boris Johnson called PM Modi and regretted that he would have to cancel his visit to India in the wake of the coronavirus-related situation in the UK.”
Johnson would have been the sixth leader from the UK to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations. The last British leader to be the chief Guest was Prime Minister John Major in 1993.