Portsmouth MP flies out to storm-hit islands on first trip as development secretary

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SURVIVORS of a devastating hurricane that ravaged the Caribbean have met an MP from Portsmouth.

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, visited the nation of Antigua and Barbuda on her first overseas trip as Britain’s new international development secretary since replacing Priti Patel.

The politician was accompanied by the Prince of Wales on the three-day diplomatic mission, where she announced a further £15m of UK aid would be sent to the region.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘The UK aid mission was huge, covering small islands stretching more than 1,000 miles apart, where buildings, airports and infrastructure had been razed to the ground.

‘I want to pay tribute to the governments of the Overseas Territories, our humanitarian staff and to the military effort, which has been absolutely essential in delivering relief.

‘Now as we move on from the immediate response phase, on to the long-term future of the islands, Britain will continue to stand by people whose lives were devastated.

‘We’re also talking to the international private sector who can support the reconstruction efforts to make sure the islands can build back, and better.’

Hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm to barrel through the Caribbean in decades, devastated huge swathes of the British Virgin Islands in September and left Barbuda almost uninhabitable after destroying nearly all of its buildings.

Less than two weeks later, the region was rocked by a second major storm, Hurricane Maria which ravaged Dominica and Puerto Rico.

With the announcement of the £15m package –plus £15m recently allocated for the affected Overseas Territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos – the UK has now committed £92m in aid to the region.