UK leaders under attack as record heat beckons – World

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government was accused on Sunday of not taking the looming heatwave seriously, as forecasters warned lives were at risk.

Johnson missed a crisis ministerial meeting in Downing Street on Saturday while taking a weekend break in his home county of Checkers – and hosted a farewell party for friends on Sunday before he leaves office in September.

At the time, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab welcomed the prospect of temperatures in England exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time.

“Obviously there’s some common sense practical advice we’re talking about – stay hydrated, stay out of the sun at the hottest times, wear sunscreen – things like that,” Raab told Sky News on Sunday.

“We should enjoy the sun and in fact we should be resilient enough to some of the pressures it will cause,” he added, insisting there was no reason to close schools when the mercury peaks on Monday and Tuesday.

The comments raised eyebrows, as did Johnson’s absence from a Downing Street meeting on the government’s response to the heatwave. He was forced to step down in part because of other parties that took place between prisons due to Covid.

College of Paramedics chief executive Tracy Nicholls said, according to Raab on Sky: “It’s not a nice hot day to put on a bit of sun cream and go out and enjoy a swim and a meal outside.

“It’s a serious heat that could end up killing people because it’s so bad,” she said.

“We’re just not ready for that kind of heat in this country.”

Contrary to Raab’s panicked fears, government minister Kit Malthouse warned after Saturday’s meeting that transport services were facing “significant disruption” during the heatwave and said the public should work from home if possible.

Peak temperatures are expected in the UK capital, with Mayor Sadiq Khan advising Londoners to only use public transport if “absolutely necessary”.

Emergency services are in crisis and some schools in southern England have already announced they will remain closed.

Police have urged the public to avoid waterways after a 16-year-old boy drowned in a canal in the Manchester region of northwest England on Saturday.

The Met Office, Britain’s national weather agency, has issued its first “red” extreme heat warning warning that there is a “risk to life” and attributed the heatwave to man-made climate change.

The highest recorded temperature in Britain is currently 38.7C, which was set in Cambridge, East Anglia on 25 July 2019. However, this looks set to be exceeded in Met Office projections for this week.

Elvira Parkinson

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