David Cameron visit to flood-hit Wales sparks ‘confusion and upset’ with badly-timed tweet about financial support
Prime Minister leaves ministers asking ‘what the purpose of visit was’, with Wales left out of Government’s ‘money is no object’ pledge
David Cameron has managed to cause “confusion and upset” on a visit to flood-hit Wales, after he took the opportunity to announce extra financial support for those affected by the extreme weather – which won’t be available to those in the country.
The Prime Minister has previously declared that "money is no object" when dealing with the impact of the recent flooding, and speaking in Pembrokeshire yesterday he said his Government had "offered to help" the Welsh Assembly in its recovery efforts.
While on his trip to Wales, he also tweeted: "I can confirm we will fund councils that give council tax rebates to people whose homes have been flooded."
Those coordinating the support for flood-hit householders in the country expressed optimism that, given the timing and location of his announcement, they would presumably be included in the offer of financial help from Whitehall.
Yet when questioned on whether more would be provided to assist in Wales beyond military support, Mr Cameron appeared to backtrack, saying that the Barnett Formula – which dictates how the Treasury allocates funds to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland – "works in the normal way for any new spending".
Last night the Welsh natural resources minister Alun Davies told Wales Online the Prime Minister had produced "real disappointment" on his visit to the country.
"David Cameron's visit to Wales has caused serious confusion and upset. Communities he was visiting would obviously expect the support announced today, in Wales, to be available to them. We now understand that Number 10 has clarified his remarks and there will be no extra support for Welsh councils and businesses.
"That's a real disappointment to those people in Wales he's been visiting today. I have to ask what the purpose of his visit was, beyond an attempt to get a few local headlines."
Elin Jones, a Plaid Cymru assembly member who has been among those leading the flood relief effort in Aberystwyth, told The Independent: "I think Mr Cameron should apologise to the victims of flooding in Wales that he misled them. It is embarrassing for him that he didn't realise Wales was not included in his announcement – even though he was here when he made it.
"It's an insult to Wales that he and his officials hadn't checked it through, and an insult to the victims of flooding, towns and communities who have been scared for weeks."
She added: "Really I think these are exceptional circumstances, not foreseen in department budgets, and I think Mr Cameron should look again at providing additional UK Treasury funding so that he treats communities in England and Wales fairly."
Angry Welsh residents vented their frustrations at the Prime Minister on Twitter. Annabelle Harle, from Cardiff, sarcastically wrote: "Sheep don't use Twitter, obvs."
Natalie Butler tweeted: "David Cameron 'money is no object'... except for Wales. That wasn't made clear. You're PM of the UK, not England," and Collette Mather asked: "Why has he left Wales out?"
Though he wasn't wearing wellies at the time, Mr Cameron's visit to Wales comes after politicians were branded "flood tourists" earlier this month.
In Wraysbury, Berkshire, a furious local flooding recovery coordinator confronted the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond live on Sky News.
And in Purley on Thames, the Conservative MP Alok Sharma asked Ed Miliband: "Why are you actually here?"
As Britain continues to count the cost of the flooding to both homes and businesses, yesterday it was revealed that the UK's economy is at greater risk from extreme weather than any other in Europe except Germany.
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