Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has compared his constituency, Taunton, to the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo in a heated exchange in the British House of Commons.
In an apparent attempt to draw attention to what he argues is the lack of "visionary" construction planning in the small Somerset town that he represents as a member of parliament, Mr Grainger said that, "Exeter City has just brought out an excellent report looking 20 years ahead for the security and the growth of their city centre. Across the border, my county town Taunton is more like Aleppo than anything else".
— Jessica Parker (@MarkerJParker) 31 January 2019
— Mark Harris (@MrMarkHarris) 31 January 2019
The densely populated Syrian city of Aleppo has a population of about four million people and before the war acted as the country's main economic hub. Yet, after armed groups opposing President Bashar al-Assad's government seized its impoverished eastern half in the summer of 2012, the city was slowly destroyed.
Mr Grainger's constituency of Taunton, on the other hand, has a population of approximately 70,000 and boasts an array of picturesque castles, churches and monuments to a long and affluent history.
— porthla (@somsecadviser) 31 January 2019
— Farky. (@andrewfarkas302) 26 January 2019
Backlash against Grainger's remarks was swift. Local Councillor Bill Revans has been quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that he was "embarrassed" by the comment, while the mayor of the nearby town of Bridgewater, Diogo Rodrigues, said on Twitter that "'Your constituency is one of many that have taken in fleeing Syrian refugees — show some respect".
— Diogo Rodrigues — Mayor of Bridgwater (@Diogo_Rod_90) 31 януари 2019 г.