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UK PM Johnson heckled as he visits flood-hit area in central England

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BEWDLEY, England (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was heckled by some residents when he visited a flood-hit area in central England on Sunday, after the water had subsided.

Last month was the wettest February on record for the United Kingdom, with a succession of storms bringing widespread flooding to many areas.

Johnson was repeatedly criticized by opposition politicians at the height of the flooding for not visiting affected communities.

With waters now having subsided, Johnson on Sunday visited Bewdley in central England to see the recovery operation.

Television footage showed one man shouting “Traitor!” at the prime minister. A Reuters photographer heard some people booing Johnson, while others asked why he had waited until now to come.

Some residents said they were happy that he had now visited.

“There is no water here but you can still see the effects,” local resident Paul Smith, whose home was flooded, told Sky News. “We are just glad to see him here eventually.”

Speaking to reporters during his visit, Johnson said: “It is all too easy for a prime minister to come to a place in the middle of an emergency, it is not so easy frankly for the emergency services because … they are then diverted from their work for hours and hours.”

“What I have been doing since the flooding began is coordinating the national response but also looking at what we can do in the next months and years to ensure that this country really is ready to cope with the impacts of flooding,” he said.

The finance ministry said on Saturday said it would use Wednesday’s budget statement to set out a doubling of spending on flood defenses to 5.2 billion pounds ($6.8 billion) over six years.

(Reporting by Peter Nicholls, Writing by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Jane Merriman)

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