Boris Johnson this morning after announcing last night’s lockdown delay (Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Boris Johnson's border “negligence” was today blamed for the four-week delay to easing coronavirus curbs.
Labour accused the Prime Minister of failing to act quickly enough to crackdown on travel from India – and said delaying placing it on the red list fuelled cases of the Delta variant first identified in the country.
The strain is now responsible for more than 90% of British cases.
Planes from Delhi continue to land in the UK, with an Air India flight touching down at Heathrow Airport this morning.
Mr Johnson was accused of refusing to act sooner to cut travel from India because he did not want to upset Indian PM Narendra Modi.
The British premier was due to visit Delhi to discuss a trade deal on April 25, but eventually axed the trip as infections soared.
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India was finally put on the red list on April 23.
Following a major speech in London, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “It is so difficult to escape the conclusion that what the Prime Minister wanted was an in-person photo opp with Prime Minister Modi on April 25, which is when he was due to visit India.
“That was a blunder of the first magnitude for which I think today we are seeing the cost and today we are seeing people paying the price.
“It was a catastrophic error of judgement.”
No10 has previously denied the claims and said it followed scientific advice in deciding when countries are added to green, amber or red lists.
Mr Thomas-Symonds placed the blame for the four-week delay to triggering Step Four of the Government's unlocking “roadmap” squarely on the PM.
Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “Let’s call it what it is, let’s put the blame where it should lie – in this country, it’s the 'Johnson Variant'"
“The delay is happening because a new variant first identified overseas was allowed to take hold in this country,” he said.
“There is one reason and one reason only that this happened – lax border measures by Conservative ministers.
“They have allowed the Delta variant, first identified in India to take hold here.
“Let’s call it what it is, let’s put the blame where it should lie – in this country, it’s the 'Johnson Variant'.
“The Prime Minister’s negligence and incompetence, his refusal to take tough decisions have all left people facing weeks more of restrictions – and yet more uncertainty.”
He also believed British families should give up hope of foreign holidays this summer.
Mr Thomas-Symonds told reporters: “I, like everybody else, want to see international travel back as soon as possible.
“But if you're asking me the question as of today, 'Do I think that summer holidays are likely?' then I think the answer to that has to be no.”