Boris Johnson’s no-show response to the recent UK floods has come in for a barrage of criticism from all sides including Nigel Farrage and Jeremy Corbyn. But his business minister, Nadhim Zahawi, told Sky News that the Prime Minister wanted to avoid a media jamboree and instead focus on putting together an aid package for affected communities:
“What’s better? It’s much better for the prime minister to keep his ministers focused on delivery, rather than a media photo opp.”
Nevertheless, people affected as well as commentators noted that the Prime Minister had acted quite differently during the election campaign. Back in November, he was quick in his response to floods in Yorkshire and the East Midlands, visiting worst-hit areas as well as convening COBRA meetings, despite being heckled for his government’s slow response to the floods.
This time, the Prime Minister spent the bulk of the week at a grace and favour mansion in Kent. According to a report on KentLive, Johnson stayed a Chevening House, a country house he’s visited many times before. Like Chequers and Dorneywood, a trust operates Chevening with some tax-sourced funding.
Flood victims, Farrage, and Corbyn united in criticism
Condemnation of the Prime Minister’s lacklustre response has been unanimous outside government circles. On Twitter, #WhereIsBoris began trending, as Nigel Farage called his response ‘pathetic’ during his LBC show, and Jeremy Corbyn agreed:
“In refusing to visit flood-hit communities, nowhere-to-be-seen Boris Johnson is showing his true colours by his absence.”
Meanwhile, acting Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey, said that the PM was “pretending that the floods were not happening.”
To top it all off, the Financial Times has reported that the UK is making a last-minute claim for compensation to deal with flood-damage suffered during Storm Desmond last December.
During the transition period, the UK is eligible for EU financial assistance. In 2007, Britain received £127 million in flood compensation from the EU. With the cost of this year’s flood damage running to billions of pounds, the UK could receive much more substantive EU aid.
But the claiming period for Storm Desmond is running out this Sunday with reports suggesting that Whitehall is unsure as to which department should apply.
UK floods – Many warnings remain
On Thursday evening, 5 severe flood warnings with danger to life remain, 81 areas need to take urgent action, while 148 regions may also experience further flooding. 65 previous warnings are no longer in force.
Unprecedented rainfall has flooded hundreds of homes and businesses with many people requiring rescue and shelter. Six people are thought to have lost their lives.
Flood victims endure severely raised stress-levels not only during the floods but long after the water begins to subside. Hundreds of people have had to leave everything behind fully aware that their homes and possessions have been destroyed. Dealing with insurance companies in the aftermath of a flood is also very stressful. Homes that were never flooded before may see a sharp drop in value once hit by floods. Communities have come together in flood-affected areas to assist those people worst-hit.
During the last few years, the frequency of UK floods has increased significantly.