Government's response to Hurricane Irma 'was not fast enough', Jeremy Corbyn says

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Jeremy Corbyn has criticised the speed of the Government’s response to Hurricane Irma.

The Labour leader said the Conservative’s should have acted “much faster” as the warning signs ahead of the storm were “well-known”.

Mr Corbyn added: “It was entirely predictable what was happening and also very clear that because of the trajectory.

“It was going to make landfall somewhere in the eastern Caribbean, Cuba or Jamaica or Florida. It’s now affected particularly the outer islands of the Caribbean and Florida.”

Corbyn: The Labour leader criticised the Governments response to the hurricane (PA)

His comments came after hundreds of Royal Marines were scrambled to the Caribbean on Friday as Britain stepped up the rescue mission.

At least 87,000 British nationals were believed to be on four islands lashed by the hurricane.

One of the worst storms to hit the region for a century, it left a trail of devastation and at least 14 dead, with fears that the casualty toll could rise sharply.

The UK was racing to deliver aid to its stricken overseas territories amid claims that France and the Netherlands have been quicker to support their dependencies.

Two planes, a C17 and a Voyager, were flying from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, carrying around 200 Royal Marines, engineers and life-saving equipment destined for the British Virgin Islands.

Navy ship the RFA Mounts Bay was also sailing towards the islands amid fears that they have been even harder hit than Anguilla, where British military teams worked to reopen the airport so aid could be flown in.

Hurricane Irma: Helicopeter footage shows British Virgin Islands devastation

Labour MP Virendra Sharma said the storm had not been adequately prepared for, despite indications that it would wreak devastation.

Mr Sharma, who sits on the International Development Committee, welcomed the decision to send further resources, but said: “If we had that planned well in advance, then when it actually happened we could have immediately taken steps.”

Asked why he thought the response had been slow, he said: “I think it is a lack of vision.”

Mrs May’s spokeswoman dismissed criticism that the UK lagged behind France and the Netherlands in taking care of its territories in the path of the hurricane.

The spokeswoman told a Westminster briefing: “We believe our response was swift. We had a ship pre-positioned. We are getting lifesaving aid now to those who need it.”

She added: “Three flights departed this morning carrying marines and engineers as part of the MoD task force.

“Tomorrow, another C17 will leave carrying two Puma helicopters. And the RFA Mounts Bay ship is due to arrive in the British Virgin Islands … bringing aid and helicopters to help deliver supplies.”

Theresa May on Thursday announced a £32 million cash injection to the relief effort, hours before it emerged second storm Hurricane Jose had strengthened into a Category 3 storm.


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