Tory minister struggles to defend part-time PM Johnson’s failure to visit floods

A Tory minister squirmed as he struggled to defend part-time PM Boris Johnson ’s refusal to visit flood-hit areas of the UK – despite finding the time to roll out the red carpet for billionaires at a lavish ball.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick was confronted with the Mirror’s front page, which urges Mr Johnson to “get a grip” on Sky News.

Mr Jenrick insisted such visits were a “distraction” which took resources away from the emergency services.

But there was an awkward silence as he refused to say whether Prince Charles’ visit to meet families in South Wales whose homes had been devastated by Storm Dennis had been a “distraction.”

And he wouldn’t answer when asked why Mr Johnson visiting now would be a “distraction”, but it wasn’t when he visited flood-hit towns in November, during an election campaign.

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Brandishing today’s Mirror, host Kay Burley said: “This is getting out of hand, now. This is the Prime Minister, I’m sure aides have shown this to you this morning.

“‘Get a grip, you drip’ – they’re saying ‘where are you?’”

She added: “These people, who are up to their armpits in muddy water, are saying ‘where is the Prime Minister?’”

"He is very much in control of events. Over 100 of my constituents were flooded two weeks ago. What they are very concerned to see is action. They want to see more funding for flood defences," Mr Jenrick said.

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"They are pleased that the Government has activated quite a substantial package of financial support.

"Those are the really meaningful things which personally I think are more important than the distraction of the Prime Minister turning up in an emergency situation.”

Ms Burley asked: “So when the Prince of Wales went, that was a bad idea, was it?”

Mr Jenrick paused, before saying: “Well, well…the Prime Minister visiting a flood situation can take away quite a lot of resources. That’s often the advice that’s given to the Prime Minister.”

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Despite the country facing two crises – flooding and the spread of coronavirus – the PM still found time to roll out the red carpet for millionaires and billionaires at a party fundraising ball.

Unnamed donors paid almost £100,000 for two games of tennis with Mr Johnson in an auction at the event, alongside hunting trips and luxury holidays.

The party raked in an estimated £500,000 from table fees alone, as 700 attendees paid up to £15,000 a table to rub shoulders with ministers and dine on fine food and costly wine.

Mr Jenrick added: “The role of the Prime Minister is to ensure that the Government is responding effectively to an emergency situation. That is exactly what he has done.

"What the Prime Minister is more concerned about is ensuring that the proper response is made by the emergency services, by local councils and the Environment Agency.

"He is ensuring that his ministers are doing that."

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