Cameron: ‘Money is no object’ for flood relief

David Cameron tried to assure voters he was taking control of the flooding emergency, with a rare press conference in Downing Street in which he pledged that "money is no object" for flood repair operations.

But the prime minister continued to be plagued by questions about ministerial in-fighting and the role of the Environment Agency.

"We are a wealthy country, we have a growing economy, we've taken good care of our public finances," Cameron told reporters.

"In recovering from these floods, money is no object.

"In the toughest of times we are seeing the best of Britain. It'll take time but we will deal with these floods."

The prime minister said he would be setting up a new Cabinet committee to oversee flood recovery and would be personally chairing its first meeting on Thursday.

He also confirmed that he was cancelling a trip to the Middle East next week.

"Nothing is more important than dealing with these floods."

But Cameron refused to even mention the name of Environment Agency chief Lord Smith, who appears to have lost the confidence of Downing Street.

Asked repeatedly about the agency, Cameron would praise the staff, but refused to be drawn on the fate of its boss.

"The staff in the Environment Agency – the people – are doing a brilliant job," he said.

"I think that's what we need to focus on. Now is not the time for resignation."

Cameron's press conference – the first for 238 days – is a clear effort for him to convince voters in flood-hit areas that he is getting on the front foot, amid increasingly bitter criticism of ministerial performance during the crisis.