'Nowhere to be seen': Corbyn launches attack on Johnson for failing to visit flood-hit communities

Ashley Cowburn

Jeremy Corbyn has launched a scathing attack on Boris Johnson for failing to visit flood-hit communities, insisting the prime minister is “nowhere-to-be-seen” in the wake of Storm Dennis.

The Labour leader said Mr Johnson’s response to the storm was “wholly inadequate” and accused him of showing his “true colours” by not convening No 10’s emergency committee Cobra.

Over the weekend major incidents were declared in south Wales, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire due to flooding, with communities braced for further heavy rain in the coming days.

According to the Environment Agency there are 120 flood warnings – meaning flooding is expected – still in place across the country, with England having already experienced 141 per cent of its average February rainfall so far.

So far, Mr Johnson has not visited areas affected by flooding, leading to widespread criticism from opposition parties at Westminster who accused him of being “missing in action” on Monday.

Mr Corbyn, who is due to meet residents affected by the storm on Thursday, said: “In refusing to visit flood-hit communities, nowhere-to-be-seen Boris Johnson is showing his true colours by his absence.”

He added: “Failing to convene Corba 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.”

“As the climate crisis deeps, 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.”

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.

Pressed on whether Mr Johnson had plans to visit flood affected areas on Monday, a No 10 spokesperson said: “The prime minister is receiving regular updates on this. Defra (the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and the relevant agencies, the police and the fire and rescue services on the ground continue to work on it.”

The spokesperson told a Westminster media briefing that Defra and the Environment Agency were “working closely with local communities” and have deployed 5km of flood barriers across the country.

Responding to Mr Corbyn’s comments, the environment secretary, George Eustice, added: ““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.”

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