Boris Johnson was scheduled to visit India next week to hold summit level meeting with Prime Minister Modi

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his April 25 visit to India on account of a spike in coronavirus. He will now hold a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month in a virtual format and launch plans for a transformed India-UK relationship, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Monday.

“In view of the prevailing Covid situation, it has been decided by mutual agreement that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will not visit India next week. The two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a transformed India-U.K. relationship,” MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in response to media queries on the upcoming visit of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“Both leaders attach the highest importance to taking the India-UK partnership to its fullest potential and propose to remain in close touch in this regard and look forward to an in-person meeting later in the year,” he added.

Pressure had been mounting on Johnson to call off the visit amid growing concerns of a new variant of COVID-19 detected in the country. Over the weekend, the UK Opposition Labour Party joined calls for him to conduct the discussions remotely via Zoom and cancel the physical visit, which had already been shortened to focus on a day-long packed schedule on Monday, April 26.