Jeremy Corbyn: Boris 'simply does not care' about flood-hit communities

20 February 2020, 06:17

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at the Prime Minister over his response to the floods
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at the Prime Minister over his response to the floods. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at Boris Johnson for not visiting flood-hit communities accusing the PM of not caring unless there's an election on.

Mr Corbyn said the Prime Minister was showing his "true colours" by not convening the Government's emergency committee Cobra, he added it sends a “very clear message” that the PM “simply does not care about helping communities affected by flooding” if he is not campaigning in a General Election.

The Tories hit back at Corbyn's comments, accusing him of attempting to "politicise the floods."

Later today Mr Corbyn will visit residents and volunteers in communities affected by Storm Dennis in South Wales.

The Labour Leader has criticised the government for failing to support communities have repeatedly been flooded in recent years, saying that areas most vulnerable to flooding have been “badly let down time and time again”. 

Warning that extreme weather conditions like Storm Dennis will become more frequent and severe as the climate crisis deepens, Mr Corbyn called the government’s response to recent flooding “wholly inadequate”, accusing Ministers of failing to grasp the scale of the climate crisis. 

"In refusing to visit flood-hit communities, nowhere-to-be-seen Boris Johnson is showing his true colours by his absence," Mr Corbyn said.

"Failing to convene Cobra to support flood-hit communities sends a very clear message: if the Prime Minister is not campaigning for votes in a general election he simply does not care about helping communities affected by flooding, especially communities that have repeatedly been flooded in recent years.

"I want to thank our emergency services, the Welsh Labour government, local authorities and volunteers who have come together and worked around the clock to protect homes and businesses from flooding.

"As the climate crisis deepens, extreme weather conditions will become more frequent and severe.

"The Government's response has been wholly inadequate and fails to grasp the scale of this crisis."

With more warnings in place for later this week, the Lib Dem's acting leader Ed Davey lambasted the "shocking" response from Boris Johnson.

Mr Davey said: "My thoughts are with all of those affected by the floods. I would like to thank our emergency services and the environment agency for their efforts to keep people safe.

"However, Boris Johnson's response to these floods has been shocking. He seems determined to pretend they're not even happening.

"Boris Johnson must take this crisis far more seriously and hold a COBRA meeting to coordinate the country’s response. These floods are not the first we've had, but yet again show how the funding in place to protect homes and small businesses is woefully inadequate.

"We are facing a climate emergency and regrettably severe weather episodes like this are likely to become more common. The Conservative government has got to raise its game."

More rain is set to fall overnight in Wales, northwest England and southwest Scotland on Thursday morning before conditions begin to improve in the afternoon.

Roads have already been forced to close and hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in the worst-affected areas.

The Met Office has issued warnings for heavy rain in Wales, southern Scotland, and northwestern England for Thursday.

The village of Capel Curig in north Wales received 36.2 mm of rain in 12 hours on Wednesday, compared to an average of 97 mm of rain for the whole of February.

The Environment Agency said England had already received 141% of its average February rainfall so far this month, adding that river levels in the Colne, Ribble, Calder, Aire, Trent, Severn, Wye, Lugg, and Derwent all set new records in recent days.

On Tuesday, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price also questioned why the Prime Minister had not called a Cobra meeting.

He said the Welsh Government should have its own Cobra-style national emergency response system, particularly for flooding disasters, to discuss emergency responses across all public authorities.

On Wednesday afternoon, First Minister Mark Drakeford held a summit at the Emergency Coordination Centre Wales (ECCW) in Cardiff.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "Jeremy Corbyn shouldn't be trying to politicise the floods, he should be backing the Government's move to support and work with emergency personnel who are working tirelessly to help everyone affected.

"We are investing £2.6 billion in flood defences, which have already protected 200,000 properties that would otherwise have been caught out by flooding.

"We know there is more to do - which is why our manifesto committed us to an additional £4 billion for flood defences and today we've set out new measures to help the communities directly affected."