Fleur Anderson MP speaks in Parliament on the Government
Fleur Anderson MP speaks in Parliament on the Government's failure to prepare for the UK heatwave.

NEW: Government ‘asleep at the wheel’ on emergency heatwave response

Temperatures around Britain are expected to reach up to 40 degrees Celsius this week, setting record highs and sparking national emergency weather warnings across the country.

It has been reported that whilst the country tries to prepare for potential rail and air-traffic chaos as tracks and runways melt, unsafe working conditions and risk to life, Boris Johnson has skipped three COBRA heatwave meetings, allegedly choosing to instead host a party at Chequers.

Boris Johnson missed six COBRA meetings in the weeks preceding the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The news comes as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Kit Malthouse, has reportedly warned Cabinet ministers distracted by Tory Party infighting that they face being put in “special measures”.

Fleur Anderson MP, Labour’s Shadow Paymaster General, said:

“The Government has failed to explain any clear emergency response plan to protect the public during the heatwave. It has been ten months since they closed their National Resilience Strategy consultation, but we have seen no plan whatsoever.

“The Prime Minister is partying while Britain boils, and his zombie Cabinet are too distracted with Tory infighting to do their jobs. They are showing they can’t be trusted with resilience preparation, they have failed to learn from the pandemic, and they are simply not ready for a whole-system emergency.

“Where is the plan for the delivery of essential services and how people will be kept safe at work, on transport, in hospitals, care homes, and schools in the coming days? Projections suggest that this heatwave is just the first of many. Our country cannot be so unprepared that our homes and workplaces are too hot, our rail tracks melt, and our ambulances are on critical alert. 

“We need a government that is taking serious action to tackle climate change, adapt our infrastructure, and keep workers safe in this warming world. 

“When Conservative governments face the heat they melt, but a Labour government will deliver a coherent plan to keep the public safe.”

The Labour Party has today (Monday, 18 July) outlined plans to shore up the UK’s preparedness and resilience for future national emergencies, accusing the Conservatives of being asleep at the wheel in its response to this week’s heatwave.

Calling for assurances from the Government on its emergency response to keep the public safe in the heat, Labour has set out its three-point plan for a more resilient Britain.

  • First, Labour would implement a whole-system approach to preparing for national emergencies. This would include creating a new Cabinet Subcommittee on National Resilience with formal responsibility for preparedness and resilience policy, conducting an urgent review of COBRA, and appointing a Minister for Resilience within the Cabinet Office to coordinate department-wide responses.
  • Second, Labour would overhaul Local Resilience Forums, brought in by the last Labour government to plan and prepare for emergencies at local levels. It would introduce clear accountability, new training standards for officials, as well as formal inspections and quality assurance standards framework.
  • Third, Labour would implement and deliver a whole-of-society approach to resilience, bringing businesses, and volunteer groups into the heart of national emergency preparedness.

Labour is also calling on the Conservatives to immediately publish their National Resilience Strategy.

Ministers have fallen behind on national resilience with the Government’s consultation on a comprehensive resilience strategy as part of the Integrated Review closing nearly ten months ago. No resilience plans have yet been published.


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