Boris Johnson has cancelled his planned trip to India because of the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.
The Downing Street decision to abandon the post-Brexit trade mission to India came as Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross sought to use the covid pandemic in the UK as an excuse for the Prime Minister not to join him on the election campaign trail.
Having previously trailed a possible visit by the Tory leader, Ross told the BBC on Monday: “I’m not sure if he’s going to come up in Scotland in this campaign as he had hoped to. I thought he may come up, but given the pandemic and the restrictions to campaigning I’m not sure that’s likely.”
Ahead of the Scottish Conservative manifesto launch Ross said he had spoken to the Prime Minister but that the possibility of coming to Scotland, as Labour’s Keir Starmer and Lib Dem leader Ed Davey have, was not discussed.
Ross said: “If it was possible for him to come up north of the border that would be great, but I’m not putting any pressure on him.”
He added: “He is also leading the UK effort against a global pandemic and I think people understand in this strange election campaign in terms of the restrictions that we’ve all got to deal with, that it may not be as easy as for the Prime Minister to come.”
The move came as Downing Street issued a joint statement from the British and Indian governments cancelling the PM’s trip to India and potentially opening up a gap in Johnson’s dairy next week.
The Downing Street statement read: “In the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week.”
“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.”
The Prime Minister had already scaled back the visit amid surging Covid cases in India.
But he was still planning to hold face-to-face talks with Indian PM Narendra Modi in New Delhi on April 26.