In Brief

Boris Johnson under attack for response to floods - again

Prime minister faces second month of criticism over his response to the issue

Boris Johnson has been criticised by a raft of politicians for not visiting flood-stricken communities after rivers burst their banks across southern England.

The Met Office has 54 flood warnings and 141 flood alerts in place across the UK, including in the north of England and the Midlands.

Many families may be forced to spend the Christmas period away from their homes after rivers burst their banks in Kent, Cornwall, Sussex and Norfolk.

Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat MP, said: “The fact that, once again, the prime minister isn’t even planning to visit flood-hit communities says it all.

“This is a man who is perfectly comfortable weathering the storm from the comfort of his own home, rather than confronting the grim reality that hundreds of people across the UK are having to deal with.”

Johnson, who is spending Christmas with his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, in Downing Street, has no current plans to make any trips to regions of the UK damaged by flooding.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “We are working closely with the Environment Agency. The EA is monitoring the rainfall and river levels, and they have crews on the ground already operating defences.”

Simon Greaves, the Labour leader of Bassetlaw council in Nottinghamshire, where nearly 200 homes were badly damaged, said drastic action will be needed to avoid future disasters.

He said: “It would be a scandal if the government response to this crisis is simply devoted to a mopping-up exercise and a grant here and a grant there when actually there are people’s homes that need to be saved from flooding in the future.

“There will be a need for multimillion-pound investment for flood defences without any doubt if we’re going to avoid a catastrophe of the same scale.”

Dan Jarvis, the elected mayor of the Sheffield city region, called on Johnson to establish a “Cobra for the north” that would be chaired by a cabinet minister and leap into action as soon as floods struck.

This is the second time in his premiership that Johnson has been criticised over his response to flooding.

Last month, he was accused of an “utterly outrageous” lack of concern about the severe floods that caused devastation and misery in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.

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