Boris Johnson defends decision not to visit UK’s flood-hit areas | Politics

Boris Johnson has signalled he has no regrets about refusing to visit areas devastated by floods this year and claimed the emergency services advised him to stay away.

The prime minister came under fire for heading to the government’s country mansion at Chevening during half-term rather than visiting flood-hit areas.

Pressed repeatedly on whether he feels now that was the wrong decision, Johnson made the claim that the fire services, Environment Agency and others had told him his presence would be counterproductive.

He has previously taken the decision to visit flood-hit homes during the general election campaign and some of his ministers made repeated visits to devastated homeowners during the latest disaster.

Speaking to ITV’s This Morning, he said: “They [the emergency services] said to us: ‘All you’ll do is distract us and disrupt the business of helping people with the immediate crisis.’ So what I was doing was directing operations … Obviously, I’m working around the clock on various things, as indeed is the government.”

Last week, Labour branded Johnson a “part-time prime minister” over his absence from the public eye during the floods. It has called for an independent review into the government’s sluggish reaction.

Luke Pollard, the shadow environment secretary, said: “There needs to be an independent review into the government’s woefully slow response to help flood-hit communities. We need to know how many homes and businesses have been affected, and what additional funding will be made available to local authorities and emergency services.

“Labour will continue to support communities devastated by the floods and hold the government to account for its inaction.”

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