Boris Johnson has sought to explain his decision not to visit flood-hit communities during the height of this year’s flooding.
The Prime Minister met people affected by severe weather in Worcestershire on Sunday afternoon following heavy criticism over his failure to make a trip when waters were at their peak.
He said it was “too easy” for a PM to “come to a place in a middle of an emergency”, but that it was “not so easy, frankly, for the emergency services”.
Speaking on the banks of the River Severn in Bewdley where he viewed flood defences, he told reporters: “What they have to do is then break off and gold command has to find somewhere to brief you, everybody has to gather. They’re diverting from their work for hours and hours.
“What I’ve been doing since the flooding began is coordinating the national response but also looking at what we can do in the next months and years to ensure this country really is ready to cope with the impacts of flooding.”
While many locals greeted him warmly, he also faced heckles of “traitor” as he viewed flood barriers – and one person told him to “do your f***ing job” as he posed with teenagers for a selfie on a bridge in the town.
Boris Johnson has arrived in Bewdley, Worcestershire, to visit the ongoing flood recovery efforts.— Caitlin Doherty (@_CaitlinDoherty) March 8, 2020
He was greeted with heckles of âtraitorâ from the waiting public as he went to view the still erected flood barriers pic.twitter.com/CGJGuDiKoW
Bewdley has been among the worst-hit areas in England following the wettest February on record.
Mr Johnson said he would “get Bewdley done” as he spoke to residents affected by the floods.
He said he was “so sorry to hear it” when he heard homes had been overwhelmed by as much as 2ft of water.
Mr Johnson was later mobbed by members of the public as he continued his walk – with a number of people trying to shake his hand and to take photos as he made his way along the river.
He has also met members of the emergency services who responded when the water levels rose.
The PM joined them for a cup of tea and biscuits as he told them that the defence structures in the town were “pretty amazing”.
He told reporters: “I’m here today to look at the recovery of Bewdley from the flooding. It’s badly affected quite a lot of residents here.”
He thanked the Environment Agency and emergency services, before adding that he would also “look at what we can do to make sure this doesn’t happen again”.
The PM joked that he would âget Bewdley doneâ when he met residents affected by the floods. pic.twitter.com/ax1m0tEJsm— Caitlin Doherty (@_CaitlinDoherty) March 8, 2020
“We’re doubling the budgets we’ve set aside for investment in flood protection across the country from £2.6 billion to £5.2 billion.”
Mr Johnson faced heavy criticism for staying in the Foreign Secretary’s Chevening country estate in Kent during the height of the floods last month, rather than visiting regions including Yorkshire, South Wales and the Midlands.