Boris Johnson has faced fresh anger for not visiting flood-hit parts of the country after it emerged that he is not expected to travel to stricken areas over Christmas.
Despite floods having hit parts of Cornwall, Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk, and warnings being in place across the country, the prime minister’s spokesperson said there were no plans for him to visit the affected areas.
Opposition parties accused Mr Johnson of being “perfectly comfortable weathering the storm from the comfort of his own home”.
The Environment Agency has issued 200 flood warnings and alerts, mainly in the south of England, and further rain is forecast before Christmas and on Boxing Day. In some areas, families have had to be evacuated from their homes and risk being unable to return before Christmas.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “We are working closely with the Environment Agency. The EA is monitoring the rainfall and river levels, and they have crews on the ground already operating defences. We will be keeping the closest possible eye on it.”
The prime minister was heckled during visits to flood-hit parts of Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire last month, with one local resident asking him: “Why has it taken you so long?”
Mr Johnson will spend Christmas in Downing Street with his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds.
He is reportedly then set to travel to Mustique with Ms Symonds to see in the new year. The exclusive Caribbean island is a favourite of the royal family and a host of A-list celebrities. Mr Johnson is expected to be hosted by the Von Bismarck family of German aristocrats.
Criticising Mr Johnson for not visiting the flooded areas, Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, said: “With so many flood warnings in place across the UK, hundreds of families are facing the awful prospect of being forced out of their homes over the Christmas period.
“The fact that, once again, the prime minister isn’t even planning to visit flood-hit communities says it all. This is a man who is perfectly comfortable weathering the storm from the comfort of his own home, rather than confronting the grim reality that hundreds of people across the UK are having to deal with.
“The government needs to recognise that current flood protection is inadequate. It must invest in better flood defences to ensure these scenarios are not repeated time and again.”
On Monday, Prince Charles visited the Yorkshire village of Fishlake, which was hit by floods last month, and spent two hours talking to residents, police officers, firefighters and soldiers.
He is also understood to have made a donation to the flood relief fund.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies