Floods become UK election issue as parties spar over funding

10 Nov 2019

Email

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson helps with the clean up at an opticians in Matlock, northern England, after it was effected by flooding.—AFP
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson helps with the clean up at an opticians in Matlock, northern England, after it was effected by flooding.—AFP

LONDON: British political leaders swapped blame on Saturday over floods that have drenched parts of England as the deluge became an issue in the campaign for the Dec 12 election.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was visiting parts of northern England that were soaked by overflowing rivers after as much as 4.4 inches (112 mm) of rain more than a month’s worth fell in one day. One woman died when she was swept away by floodwaters.

The rain eased on Saturday but the Environment Agency said seven severe “danger to life” flood warnings remained in place along the swollen River Don.

Corbyn said the Conservative government had “failed to prepare communities by investing in flood prevention.” “This is what a climate and environment emergency looks like,” he said. “Every year we don’t act means higher flood waters, more homes ruined and more lives at risk.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the area and insisted the government was investing in flood defences.

“We are seeing more and more serious flooding perhaps because of building, almost certainly because of climate change,” Johnson said. “We need to prepare and we need to be investing in those defenses, and that’s what this government is doing.” Johnson pushed for the December election taking place more than two years early in the hope of breaking Britain’s political impasse over Brexit.

All 650 seats in the House of Commons are up for grabs. Johnson says that if voters give the Conservatives a majority he will “get Brexit done” and take the UK out of the European Union by the current deadline of Jan 31.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2019