'Traitor': Boris Johnson heckled as he visits flood-hit area of Worcestershire

March 08, 2020

Boris Johnson has been greeted with heckles of "traitor" as he visited a flood-hit area of Worcestershire.

The prime minister arrived on the banks of the River Severn in Bewdley on Sunday, and was taken to view the still-erected flood defences by Environment Agency staff.

The area has been overwhelmed by flooding in recent weeks and properties and businesses have been inundated with water.

His visit comes after opposition parties criticised Mr Johnson for not visiting affected communities.

Mr Johnson said he would "get Bewdley done", as he spoke to residents in the town who had been affected.

When he heard homes had been overwhelmed by as much as 2ft of water, the PM said he was "so sorry to hear it".

Mr Johnson spoke with the Environment Agency during his trip and said they had talked about "what permanent defences can we put in and what's the business case".

He added: "What we're doing is we are doubling the funding for flood defences to £5.2bn and we're also going to be looking at all the things we can do upstream."

The PM got a mixed reception as he walked through the town centre.

A number of teenagers asked him to pause for a selfie on the bridge, with Mr Johnson obliging with a smile and a thumbs up.

But as he walked back on to the river bank, one man shouted "do your f****** job".

The PM was then shown how the flood barriers work on Severn Side North.

Mr Johnson was later mobbed by members of the public as he continued walking around Bewdley - a number of people tried to shake his hand and take photos with the PM as he made his way along the river.

He also met members of the emergency services and joined them for a cup of tea, telling them that the flood defences in the town were "pretty amazing".

Mr Johnson has been criticised as a "part-time prime minister" for previously staying away.

This included remaining at his grace-and-favour mansion in Kent during parliament's week-long recess last month.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the PM of remaining "silent" and "sulking", adding: "How can the country trust a part-time prime minister?"

Asked about this criticism, the PM said embarking on a visit in the immediate aftermath would have been counterproductive.

"It's too easy for a PM to come to a place in a middle of an emergency, it's not so easy frankly for the emergency services," Mr Johnson said.

"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."

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The PM said the government would "look at what we can do to make sure this doesn't happen again".

"We're doubling the budgets we've set aside for investment in flood protection across the country from £2.6bn to £5.2bn."

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