Corbyn shows solidarity with flood-hit areas while Johnson is nowhere to be seen

Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson
Ed Sykes

Jeremy Corbyn has been on the ground showing solidarity with communities recently affected by flooding. Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has faced criticism for not visiting these areas.

Corbyn also said Johnson was showing his “true colours” by not convening the government’s emergency committee COBRA.

There’s no election on, so Johnson’s nowhere to be seen

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi argued that Johnson’s absence was because he was trying to avoid “a jamboree of media” and “keep his ministers focused on delivery”. But as Sky News reported:

This is in contrast to last year’s general election campaign, during which the prime minister visited flood-affected areas and held COBRA meetings in response to severe flooding in Yorkshire and the East Midlands in November.

Corbyn picked up on this apparent hypocrisy too, tweeting:

Others also noticed this:

Johnson has reportedly spent “much of the week” at a “115-room lakeside mansion in the Kent countryside” instead of visiting flood-hit areas. And environment secretary George Eustice accused Corbyn of “trying to politicise the floods”.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) also slammed Johnson’s response, however, highlighting government cuts in England in recent years which include “a £3.2m cut to the services covering areas with severe “risk to life” flood warnings”. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said:

This Prime Minister has shown absolutely zero leadership as flooding devastates our communities. …

our ability to tackle its consequences has been utterly undermined by a lack of long-term planning from this shambles of a government.

The Tories have slashed fire and rescue funding, bungled flood defences, and refused to recognise in law the role of firefighters and control staff in responding to these emergencies.

Tory government “fails to grasp the scale of this crisis”

Corbyn, meanwhile, visited South Wales on 20 February, meeting residents and volunteers in communities affected by Storm Dennis:

Ahead of the visit, Corbyn said areas most vulnerable to flooding had been “badly let down time and time again”. He also called the government’s response to recent flooding “wholly inadequate” and accused ministers of failing to grasp the scale of the climate crisis, stressing:

In refusing to visit flood-hit communities, nowhere-to-be-seen Boris Johnson is showing his true colours by his absence…

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.

Flooding in Nantgarw, Wales
Flooding in Nantgarw, Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

Everyday solidarity

While Johnson has faced accusations of only turning up on the ground when he wants something (i.e. to win an election), Corbyn has recently been showing that solidarity is simply part of who he is.

In the last few weeks, for example, he has backed striking workers:

He has also supported communities helping homeless people:

And he has stood alongside minority communities against rising racism:

Voters deserve to have politicians who support us day in and day out – not just when they need our votes. Corbyn has been a shining light on that front.

Featured image via Sophie Brown and BBC News, with additional content via Press Association

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