Somerset Levels Tory MP launches 'brutal' attack on Environment Agency chief: 'I will flush his head down the loo'

Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger made the comments as Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith visits flood stricken Somerset Levels for first time

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The Independent Online

A Tory MP for Somerset has launched an astonishing attack on the Environment Agency chief, calling him a ‘coward’ and a ‘git’, and even threatening to ‘stick his head down the loo’.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, made the comments as Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith prepared to visit the flood stricken Somerset Levels for the first time since the crisis struck.

Mr Liddell-Grainger also called on Lord Smith to quit during his tirade: “I will tell him what I bloody well think of him - he should go, he should walk,” he said.

“I'm livid. This little git has never even been on the telephone to me. When I find out where he is, I will give it to him. He's a coward.”

Arriving at the Willows and Wetlands Visitor Centre in Stoke St Gregory, Lord Smith dismissed calls for his resignation. In the lead up to the visit, he had refused to release details of the trip.

Marines drafted in to evacuate Somerset residents

"I have no intention of resigning because I'm very proud of the work the Environment Agency and its staff have been doing right round the country in the face of the most extreme weather," he said.

Asked why he had not apologised to residents, he said: “I have said to the people here what we did last year, what we've been preparing now, the work we're currently doing, and I think the important thing now is to work out what we can do for the future of Somerset, what can now happen, and that's what I'm primarily talking about with the local people here.”

Lord Smith also denied making the controversial comment that Britain may have to choose whether it wants to save “town or country” from future flooding because it is too costly to defend both.

“I have never said it is a choice between saving the town and saving the country," he said.

“What I have said is that the clear priorities that have been set for us by successive governments is: our top priority is protecting lives; our second priority is protecting people's homes and people's businesses; our third priority is protecting as much agricultural land as we can.

"That's the order of priority, that happens in both the town and the country."

The agency has been under fire from some residents who believe river dredging could have helped reduce flooding.

Lord Smith said: “What we need to do is find the best possible ways - dredging is probably one of the ways but it's not the only way - and there will be lots of other things we need to see if we can do in order to try and protect Somerset for the future.”

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Speaking to LBC radio this morning before Lord Smith’s visit, Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said: “They won’t tell me where he’s going, but I’m going to get him. I’ve got my farmers, I’ve all got my landowners, waiting for this guy.

“If I just have to stick his head down the loo and flush, I will, because he is going to get this message. He is going to get this message. I don’t care how long it takes, and I don’t care how nasty and brutal we all are about it. They are going to learn.”

He added: “I hope he falls in the river. I don’t mean that cruelly, but I do hope he drops in the river so he can see what we are living with. This man has done an awful lot of damage.”