At least 20,000 passengers travelling from India were allowed to enter Britain despite warnings about a new strain that had emerged there.
The rise of the new variant has caused tensions in Whitehall about whether the prime minister hesitated to put India on the red list because of plans to visit Delhi on April 25 to discuss a post-Brexit trade deal with India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.
Pakistan and Bangladesh were put on the red list on April 2, a measure that came into force on April 9. Three weeks later on April 19, Mr Johnson cancelled the trip and India was put on the red list.
Analysis of Civil Aviation Authority figures suggests that 900 people arrived daily from India between April 2 and April 23.
A source who attended a Whitehall war gaming exercise on Thursday told the Sunday Times: “It’s very clear that we should have closed the border to India earlier and that Boris did not do so because he didn’t want to offend Modi.”
Downing Street denied relations with India played a role in the red list decision.
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