Work more hours if you can’t afford food, Therese Coffey suggests
Environment secretary Therese Coffey has drawn derision after her questionable excuse for why the government failed to help people dealing with flooding in Storm Babet.
Her reason? The rain came from the wrong direction. No, really.
At least seven people are thought to have died in the “unprecedented” story last week, while hundreds of people have been left homeless.
The storm flooded about 1,250 properties in England, according to the Environment Agency.
Coffey told MPs on Tuesday: “We are very good … at predicting weather normally because most of our rain tends to come in from the west. We’ve got that pretty much down to a fine art.
“This was rain coming from the other way and we don’t have quite as much experience on that.
“Therefore, our accuracy of predicting where such heavy rain would fall was not to the same degree as if it had been.
“So the Environment Agency had moved assets from parts of the country more towards Yorkshire and the north-east and that way.
“But I’m conscious that there were still some places that felt they could have done with some more pumps.”
Perhaps understandably, she was roundly mocked.
@BestForBritain We can't deal with rain coming from the other way
X/Twitter user Don McGowan said: “There’s a secret competition around the cabinet table, isn’t there!
“Who can come up with the most ludicrous excuse for not doing their own jobs?
“This wins by the way. The wrong type of rain wins.”
Another person, Henry Nash, said the excuse was “on par with ‘the dog ate my homework’”.
One user, Eric Harmer, added: “We're now being outsmarted by the weather. We stand on the west coast with our buckets on the lookout for rain, and it sneaks in behind us.”
@BestForBritain There\u2019s a secret competition around the cabinet table, isn\u2019t there!\n\nWho can come up with the most ludicrous excuse for not doing their own jobs?\n\nThis wins by the way. The wrong type of rain wins.
Coffey visited affected residents in Retford, Nottinghamshire, on Monday, and said £5.2bn had been set aside to protect homes and businesses from flooding between 2021 and 2017.
But she acknowledged it looked as if her department “may not be hitting” its target of protecting 336,000 properties by 2027.
Coffey told MPs she would conduct a “rapid review” after highlighting that some UK communities affected by flooding felt they could have been given more pumps to stop them from becoming submerged.
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrats’ environment spokesperson, said: “This is a new low for an environment secretary that cannot help but say or do the wrong thing.
“Thérèse Coffey blaming the wind for the government’s failure to protect homes from flooding would almost be comical if so many had not suffered so deeply at the hands of her incompetence.”