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18 Feb, 2020 18:40

Priorities: Boris Johnson fails to visit flooded areas in UK, yet makes time to extend Syria sanctions

Priorities: Boris Johnson fails to visit flooded areas in UK, yet makes time to extend Syria sanctions

UK PM Johnson hasn’t visited victims of the Storm Dennis floods, or called an emergency ‘COBRA’ meeting, but his government has had the time to announce it’s going along with more sanctions on Syria.

That tells us everything about its priorities.

During the general election campaign Boris Johnson and his team made a big thing of being on the side of ‘ordinary people.’ But just two months after the poll, which resulted in Tory victory, the promises are all looking a bit hollow.

The UK has recently witnessed some of its worst ever winter floods. Storm Ciara — which hit the country earlier in February was followed last weekend by Storm Dennis — for which many communities paid a very high price. At time of writing more than 200 flood warnings are in place, including 10 severe or ‘danger to life’ warnings. Five people have died and the cost to homes and businesses has been enormous. And it could all get a whole lot worse, with more rain forecast.

Also on rt.com Record-breaking floods across England as Storm Dennis lashes UK (VIDEOS)

Yet, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has gone missing in action. No, he hasn’t been swept away down river, he just prefers to stay and work from a 115-room mansion in Kent.

It is a scandalous dereliction of duty. There’s only one place the British Prime Minister should be this week — in the worst-affected parts of the country — in his Barbour and wellies — showing some proper leadership. It is after all what former Prime Minister Gordon Brown did when Britain was affected by bad summer floods in 2007.

Brown, like Johnson, was a relatively new Prime Minister. But there the similarities end.

What we’ve seen confirmed this week is that the Johnson government for all its populist rhetoric isn’t really that concerned about Britons in crisis. What they are concerned most about is projects that favour the power elites. It’s the power elites who want regime change in Syria — which is why Britain, despite leaving the European Union, still signs up to the new European sanctions against  ‘those propping up the Assad regime’ in Syria. 

Just four years ago Boris Johnson wrote a column for the Daily Telegraph entitled ‘Bravo for Assad‘ hailing (quite rightly) the Syrian Army for their rescue of Palmyra, now he’s fully in tune with the neocons. There was, needless to say, no  announcement about the government implementing sanctions against those ‘propping up’ al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Syria. 

Also on rt.com How ‘bungling Boris’ bounced back from his 2016 setback

Another elite-friendly project is HS2 high-speed rail line. It’s basically a railway for rich businessmen paid for by the taxpayers, most of whom will probably never be able to afford to travel on it. Before the election, Johnson called for a review, but predictably now he’s safely back in power, the vanity project has been given the go-ahead, despite the review warning there was a ‘considerable risk’ that costs could reach £106bn.

Individually, as well as collectively, British interests are being put last by a government which boasted about ‘taking back control’. 

The shocking case of Harry Dunn, the 19-year-old motorcyclist killed by  US national Anne Sacoolas — reportedly a former CIA operative — who was allegedly driving her SUV on the wrong side of the road in Britain is a good illustration of this. The British government stands accused of falsely informing Dunn’s grieving family that Sacoolas worked for the State Department and had diplomatic immunity, when she hadn‘t.

There was also the far from robust stance of the government towards the Cyprus authorities when a young British woman was charged by Cypriots after she reported being gang-raped by a group of Israelis. What an ordeal she went through, but the British government was of precious little help — with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab saying that the government didn‘t want to ‘aggravate‘ the authorities in Cyprus. 

Also on rt.com Hold on to your hats, Boris de Gaulle takes power in London: What the UK government reshuffle really means

It’s almost as if now the election is won — and the spectre of Corbynism has been defeated — the mask is off. 

What is revealing is that it isn’t just Labour MPs who have been criticizing Johnson for his response to the floods but Tory MPs too. Tory MP for Shipley Philip Davies said the government “needs to pull its finger out.”

“My constituents who were flooded were the same people who were flooded on Boxing Day 2015. It's not as if there hasn't been enough time to do something,” he said.

That’s true, but the government has had other priorities ahead of building up adequate flood defences at a time of climate change. It was reported two days ago that flood defences in England receive just 1% of infrastructure spending.

The government did announce in August an extra £60m to boost flood defences in the north, but just compare that sum to how much is being spent on HS2, or indeed the estimated £50.9bn- £205bn to replace Trident.

Boris Johnson  wasn’t a bad Prime Minister when there was real Establishment fear of Jeremy Corbyn leading a left-wing government. Now that threat is gone it seems to me to be a case of ‘we don’t really care that you think we don‘t care about you, because what on earth are you going to do about it?’  I guess for the next four years at least, we’re all going to have to paddle our own canoe, literally and metaphorically.

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.