UKIP leader Nigel Farage calls for foreign aid to be used to help British flood victims

UK Independence Party chief urges government to show it cares on a visit to storm-hit Somerset

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 February, 2014, 4:47am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 February, 2014, 4:47am

The leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, urged the government yesterday to redirect part of its foreign aid budget to flood victims at home.

On a visit to the flood-hit county of Somerset, Farage complained that Britain gives aid to India despite New Delhi having its own space programme.

Flooding and landslips have completely cut off rail routes to large parts of England's south west as storms continue to batter southern Britain.

"It seems to me that the aid budget is about us giving charity overseas. When you've got an emergency in this country, it's time to say that charity begins at home," he said. "The international aid budget is £11 billion [HK$140 billion] a year. All the government have offered so far is less than 1 per cent of that in the form of £100 million.

"If, suddenly, that was 5 per cent or 6 per cent, you'd be talking real money."

Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative-led coalition government in fact allocated £130 million last week in emergency relief after weeks of storms and flooding.

The UKIP leader also compared the government's handling of the floods to its response last November to Typhoon Haiyan, which killed 8,000 people in the Philippines.

"It's funny isn't it, that when there are disasters overseas - and I accept that the Philippines is worse than what's happening here - the British are very quick to send money and to send people," Farage said.

"It feels to the people living [in Somerset] that we have a serious problem here and no one does anything and no one cares."

Meanwhile, the minister leading the response to the floods, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, admitted the government should have dredged rivers to prevent flooding, as local residents demanded months ago.