UK political leaders clash as flooding hits England

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government had failed to invest in flood protection

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson helps with the clean up at an opticians in Matlock, northern England, on November 8, 2019 after it was effected by flooding.  Over a month's worth of rain fell on parts of England Thursday, with some people forced to evacuate their homes, and others left stranded in a Sheffield shopping centre. / AFP / POOL / Danny Lawson
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As the UK’s December 12 general election draws closer, the leaders of the two main political parties have clashed over flooding that has hit parts of England.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, accused the Conservative-led government of failing to protect people by investing in good enough flood prevention. He was speaking after visiting parts of northern England that saw over a month’s worth of rain fall in a day. One woman, named by police as Annie Hall, has died.

"This is what a climate and environment emergency looks like," Mr Corbyn said. "Every year we don't act means higher flood waters, more homes ruined and more lives at risk."

Visiting an affected area on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson irritated some by claiming that the flooding "is not looking like something we need to escalate to the level of a national emergency”.

"We are seeing more and more serious flooding - perhaps because of building, almost certainly because of climate change," Mr Johnson said. "We need to prepare and we need to be investing in those defences, and that's what this government is doing."

Eurosceptic Boris Johnson has built his campaign on ensureing the UK leaves the European Union after the country voted by 52 per cent to 48 per cent for Brexit in the summer of 2016.  But his approach has ostracised pro-EU figures in the Conservative Party.

The UK was due to leave earlier this year but arguments in parliament have prevented this.

Labour is also divided between supporters of the left-wing Mr Corbyn and more centrist figures in the party.

Former Labour Cabinet Minister David Blunkett slammed the "intolerance and division" in the party, which

"The behaviour of the hard-Left within the Labour Party - the anti-Semitism, the thuggery, the irrational views on security and international issues, and the lack of realisation that you have to embrace a big tent of people in order to win - certainly makes me despair," Mr Blunkett wrote in The Daily Telegraph.