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
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:
If the Prime Minister is not campaigning for votes in a general election, he simply does not care about helping communities affected by flooding.https://t.co/ejbqBlRG7x
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) February 20, 2020
Others also noticed this:
So according to Tory MPs it would only hamper relief efforts if Johnson and his entourage turned up in flood areas .. how come this didn’t apply pre election then @BBCPolitics @SkyNews @Channel4News @LBCNews pic.twitter.com/QAUHWEHddK
— SUSAN SIMPSON #NeverTrustaTory (@smartysue) February 20, 2020
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:
The @WelshLabour Government is providing funding towards the clean-up and is working with local councils to help people deal with the effects of the flooding.#WorkingTogether pic.twitter.com/q5KxQaCuZP
— Welsh Labour (@WelshLabour) February 20, 2020
Today, Jeremy Corbyn visited flood hit communities in Wales, Rhydyfelin. Boris Johnson has been holed up in a country mansion refusing to visit flood hit communities.
Leaders' lead. pic.twitter.com/YwySp88jIg
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) February 20, 2020
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.
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:
CARDIFF, WALES. FEBRUARY 20 2020. Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the Labour Party speaking at the University and College Union (UCU) strike at Cathays Park, Cardiff. 74 universities around the United Kingdom are taking part in this strike. pic.twitter.com/7gkoQyGnWZ
— Hashim Al-Hashmi (@Hashim_PJ) February 20, 2020
This morning, with @RachaelMaskell and other Labour MPs, I was proud to join cleaners, porters and maintenance workers from the Foreign Office who are on a month-long strike for better pay and union rights.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) February 11, 2020
He has also supported communities helping homeless people:
Absolute pleasure to host you @jeremycorbyn in #Slough and show you the HQ in #Hayes of @NishkamSWAT, a #Sikh charity doing incredible work.
Your empathy with people, as you volunteered for the homeless feed, was palpable and commented upon by so many. 🙏🏼https://t.co/PmSAumaDG4
— Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP (@TanDhesi) February 15, 2020
— ShelterFromTheStorm (@SFTSLondon) January 31, 2020
And he has stood alongside minority communities against rising racism:
It's disgraceful that the Chinese community have faced increased racism and over 50% business losses since the coronavirus outbreak. I've come to Chinatown here in Manchester, a city that has been twinned with Wuhan for 33 years. We stand in solidarity with the Chinese community. pic.twitter.com/hJpRSQ9B3l
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) February 13, 2020
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.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?