Jeremy Corbyn brands Government response to floods 'woeful'
12 November 2019, 12:07 | Updated: 12 November 2019, 12:18
Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at Boris Johnson using a speech on education reforms to attack the Prime Minister's response to floods in the North.
Mr Corbyn said large parts of the country had been "devastating floods" which saw more than a thousand homes evacuated and one death.
"The Conservative Government’s response to the floods has been woeful," the Labour leader said.
His comments come in the wake of major flooding across the Midlands and the North of England with Fishlake, near Doncaster becoming a focal point after residents were evacuated.
He told Labour supporters in Blackpool had it happened in Surrey instead of Yorkshire and the East Midlands, he thought it "would have been a very different story."
Recalling floods which devastated parts of the South in 2014, Mr Corbyn quoted former Prime Minister David Cameron who said: "Money is no object in this relief effort. Whatever money is needed, we will spend it."
Yesterday the Labour leader called on the Prime Minister to declare a national emergency and hold a COBRA meeting, in a Tweet he said Mr Johnson needed to "take responsibility" for the Government response to the flooding.
I've called on Boris Johnson to declare a national emergency and hold a COBRA meeting.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 11, 2019
As Prime Minister he needs to take responsibility for the government’s response to the devastating flooding that's hit communities in the past few days.https://t.co/IrxQcpT3VD
In his speech Mr Corbyn said Boris Johnson "waited five days before calling a COBRA meeting," adding he only did it after he demanded it.
We now need a guarantee from the government that the Bellwin money is made immediately available to local government.
On Saturday the Government announced they had activated the Bellwin scheme to support local communities hit by flooding
Local authorities in Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire will receive emergency funds to help with the costs in responding to flooding.
Mr Corbyn criticised the Conservative action since the 2014 flooding when David Cameron said his party would “we will build a more resilient country for the future."
The Labour leader cited cuts made under Tory Governments, especially "frontline flood response and Environment Agency staff" who he said had been "slashed by a fifth – and fire and rescue staff by nearly a quarter."
"So here we are again," Mr Corbyn said.
He added that it was "just common sense: to fund flood defences and emergency responders as a priority while in a "climate emergency."
He vowed that under a Labour Government flood defences and emergency response would be properly funded.
The Liberal Democrats have pledged a £5bn fund to help bolster the UK's flood defences after days of flooding chaos.
The five-year flood prevention and adaptation initiative would be created by the Liberal Democrats if they gain power, party leader Jo Swinson has said.
The funding for the scheme would come from an infrastructure budget funded by borrowing, the party claim.