Shadow Floods Minister Barry Gardiner told to 'take his mankini' to Somerset Levels

Tory MP Ian Liddell-Grainger's invitation comes after Mr Gardiner was spotted swimming in Cancun, Mexico over the weekend

Labour’s shadow floods spokesman has been invited to visit the flooded Somerset Levels with his “mankini” and “knotted hanky” after he was spotted in his bathing trunks in Mexico.

Barry Gardiner was pictured in the Mail on Sunday at a resort hotel in Cancun on a £3,650 trip, to attend a conference funded by Sigma Pharmaceuticals.

The photos come after Labour leader Mr Miliband cancelled a visit to Indian last week, opting to instead meet communities affected by the recent storms.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, the Conservative MP for Bridgwater, spoke to the Telegraph on Monday and criticised the timing of Mr Gardiner’s holiday because he had not yet seen him visit the Levels.

But Mr Liddell-Grainger admitted that the Labour leader and the shadow Environment secretary Maria Eagle had both been.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said that Mr Gardiner should take his “mankini” – referring to the pant-like bathing suit for men made famous by Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Borat.

He told the Telegraph: “The timing is probably not great, I accept that he probably had his holiday booked.

“But actually we are all stuck down here at the moment trying to help clear the mess and we need all hands grimly on the pumps.

“It’s not easy – the water is still here, we still have a lot to clear. It would be nice to see Barry down here and I welcome him to come down when he gets back perhaps he can slip his mankini into his bag and see us.

“If he would like sun, sea and surf I have got it all here in Somerset. If he would like to come down I can supply him with a deckchair and a knotted hanky.”

Mr Gardiner did not respond to the newspaper when asked if he would visit communities hit by storms when he returns to the UK.

A Labour spokesman said: “It is Ed Miliband and Maria Eagle who have led Labour's response to the floods crisis.

“They have visited families and businesses affected across the South West and Thames Valley. They have ensured the Government’s slow response to this crisis was speeded up and shown how David Cameron's government failed to prepare for flooding despite the evidence of climate change.

“Labour's response has been effective and robust. To suggest anything else is ridiculous.”

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