THERESA VILLIERS did answer questions from MPs before travelling to Yorkshire to meet Environment Agency staff and then flooding victims.
However the Environment Secretary will be bringing democracy into disrepute if she leaves the county without answering questions from The Yorkshire Post – and other regional media – about Defra’s record in this region.
She – and Boris Johnson for that matter – might think that it is ‘job done’. Yet snubbing one of the country’s most trusted newspapers by not putting the Secretary of State forward for interviews equates to snubbing the electorate if the Secretary of State, and those advising her, do not accede to interview requests.
It’s not just a refusal to engage with the media as the Government continues its stand-off with Radio Four’s Today programme and other broadcasters who might just embarrass Ministers like Mrs Villiers, it is a refusal to engage with voters – the very people who want to know why their homes and businesses continue to be repeatedly flooded in spite of countless promises of action, and investment, from Ministers.
They want to know – with reason – why flood defence schemes continue to be delayed, why rivers are not dredged more frequently and why the Government’s funding formula has appeared to leave the North at additional risk from flooding and the effects of climate change.
And to continue to ignore such questions – and the need for a strategic approach that considers river catchment areas in their entirety – is not democracy. It is also not leadership and it is totally unacceptable.