Today at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mary asked Boris Johnson whether he could honestly say that he had done everything he could to provide help to people in County Durham in the aftermath of Storm Arwen.
On 26th November, the North East was devastated by Storm Arwen with winds of around 100mph hitting the region, causing extensive damage and leaving hundreds of thousands of properties without power. Thousands of these households were left without heating or electricity for over a week, while some still remain without.
Despite, the severity of the situation, the Government only made a statement on the impact of the storm the following Wednesday after the threat of an urgent question by backbench MPs. A full week after the storms hit the region, the Government announced they would be sending in the army to help support residents, leading to widespread criticism over the time taken to respond.
In her question, Mary cited the villages in her constituency that had been left without power, with residents reliant on support from local community groups and the generosity of friends and family. She then slammed the Government for their inaction, saying ‘my constituents weren’t just without power, they were without a government.’
In response, Boris Johnson claimed that he had done everything he could in response to Storm Arwen.
Mary asked the Prime Minister:
Storm Arwen left thousands of people in Bearpark, Ludworth, Sherburn, and Waterhouses, without heating or electricity, yet it took five days for a ministerial statement to be made and a week to send in the army. My constituents weren’t just left without power, they were left without a government that cares.
Can the Prime Minister look me in the eye, and honestly say that he did everything he could, as soon as he could, to help the people of Durham?
The Prime Minister responded:
“Yes I can Mr Speaker. And I can tell her that I was in contact with representatives of the local authorities, of the army, of Northern Powergrid, and others to see what more we could do to assist them in restoring power. I sympathise very much with the families who lost power for an unconscionably long period, Mr Speaker. And the House will have heard the explanation of the various electricity companies about why that was so. We must learn the lessons from storms Arwen and Barra and make sure nothing like that happens again.”
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s response, Mary said:
It’s simply staggering that the Prime Minister had the nerve to look me in the eye and say that he did everything he could to help my constituents in the aftermath of Storm Arwen, some of whom were without power for over a week.
I’d invite the Prime Minister to come and tell that lie to the people of Bearpark, Waterhouses, or the other areas of Durham who’ve suffered this past week as they’d give him short shrift.