Boris Johnson Dubbed ‘Part-Time’ Prime Minister After Public No-Shows

Kitty Donaldson and Olivia Konotey-Ahulu

(Bloomberg) -- Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Boris Johnson of being a “part-time” prime minister after the premier failed to visit flood-stricken areas of the U.K., choosing instead to remain at a government-owned country mansion during last week’s parliamentary recess.

Johnson has also drawn criticism from his own Conservative Party after heavy rainfall resulted in rivers bursting their banks across Britain, flooding homes and sparking a debate over river defenses and ways to prevent the problem. As Johnson was questioned in Parliament on Wednesday, police were evacuating residents in Shropshire, western England, as the home of the world’s first iron bridge, a UNESCO heritage site, was swamped.

Corbyn, who will step down as Labour leader in April, accused Johnson of hiding at Chevening, in Kent, last week, and drew a contrast with the prime minister’s willingness to visit flood hit areas when there were “votes on the line” during last year’s general election campaign.

“The prime minister was keen to pose for cameras when there was a crisis on during the election, but he often goes AWOL,” Corbyn told Parliament on Wednesday, before citing other examples of Johnson’s absences, including his late response to 2011 riots when he was mayor of London, and earlier this year following the U.S. assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

Tory Party strategists have taken an approach of keeping the prime minister away from the public and press, judging that they have more to lose than gain by public appearances with five years to go before national elections. They are relying on voters not following the day-to-day ins and outs of Westminster politics and focusing on the bigger picture.

Johnson’s team prefer carefully choreographed social media appearances and images from their in-house photographer, but it’s likely Labour will keep returning to their theme that the prime minister is detached and out of touch.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net;Olivia Konotey-Ahulu in London at okonoteyahul@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Thomas Penny, Stuart Biggs

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