UK Covid news: Boris Johnson cancels trip to India as pressure grows for it to be added to travel red list


Good morning. As we report in the paper today, Boris Johnson is still resisting pressure to cancel his visit to India – even though coronavirus cases in the country are soaring (it has now recorded more than 15m) and there are worries about the discovery of the Indian variant in the UK.

But, according to Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, Covid will stop Johnson visiting Scotland between now and the Holyrood election two weeks on Thursday – even though he is the UK leader of the main opposition party in Scotland and he has visited the country at other stages during the pandemic.

Unlike India, Scotland has got coronavirus cases under control. Only 211 new cases were recorded there yesterday, and for most of the past fortnight the proportion of tests producing a positive result has been below 2% (whereas in early January it was often more than 10%).

This is what Ross told the Today programme when asked this morning if Johnson would be visiting during the campaign.


I’m not sure if he’s going to come up in Scotland in this campaign. He had hoped to come up, and I thought he may come up, but given the pandemic and the restrictions to campaigning I’m not sure that’s likely now.

When it was put to Ross that Johnson had visited Scotland previously when Covid restrictions were in force, Ross replied:


Well, he’s also leading the UK effort for against a global pandemic and I think people understand in this more strange election campaign, in terms of the restrictions that we’ve all got to deal with, that it may not be as easy for the prime minister to come up.

A more plausible reason for Johnson not visiting Scotland is that his opinion ratings in the country make him a one-man vote multiplier for the SNP. Justin Webb, the presenter, asked Ross if he wanted Johnson to visit during the election campaign. Ross said he would welcome Johnson in his own constituency but, despite being pressed by Webb four times on this, he failed to give an unequivocal “yes” to the question. This is what the SNP MP John Nicholson tweeted about the exchanges.

JOHN NICOLSON MP
(@MrJohnNicolson)

Justin Webb literally laughs at Douglas Ross’ slipperiness on #bbcr4today but pins him down in the end. Boris Johnson won’t join the @ScotTories campaign in #SP21 elections. “He’s too busy”. Aye right.


April 19, 2021

Here is the agenda for the day.

8am: Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for London mayor, launches his election manifesto.

9.05am: Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, speaks to the virtual Innovate Finance summit.

11am: The Scottish Tourism Alliance hosts an election hustings.

12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its daily lobby briefing.

3.30pm: The NAO and HM Revenue and Customs give evidence to the Commons Treasury committee about the economic impact of coronavirus.

Also, Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer are both doing visits today, and they should be doing media interviews.

Covid is the issue dominating UK politics this year and Politics Live is often largely or wholly devoted to coronavirus at the moment. But I will be covering non-Covid politics too and – depending on what seems most important and most interesting to readers – sometimes these stories will take precedence.

For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.




Douglas Ross launching a Scottish Conservative election poster last week.

Douglas Ross launching a Scottish Conservative election poster last week. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA





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