Jeremy Corbyn tells Theresa May: Grenfell tragedy was down to 'disastrous effects of austerity'
Jeremy Corbyn today blamed the “disastrous effects of austerity” for the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower that claimed the lives of at least 79 victims.
But Theresa May immediately hit back and blamed Tony Blair’s Labour government for beginning the process of cladding tower blocks and easing building regulations.
The Prime Minister revealed today that cladding from 120 towers in 37 local authorities had failed fire safety tests - a damning 100% rate of failure.
Top figures in Labour have been pushing the argument that austerity - including reduced emergency services personnel and cuts in council funding - was the cause of the blaze.
In an angry exchange at Prime Minister’s Questions today the Labour leader told Mrs May a 40% cut in local authority budgets and 11,000 fewer firefighters meant “we all pay a price”.
“What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity,” he told the House.
“This disregard for working-class communities; the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners.”
He added: “I urge the Prime Minister to come up with the resources needed... so that all our communities can truly feel safe in their own homes.”
And he fumed: “This disaster must be a wake-up call.”
But Mrs May shot back: "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government.”
She added: “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'.”
Tory MPs meanwhile shouted “shame on you” at the Labour leader for blaming Tory economic policy for the tragedy.
CLADDING 'NOT COMPLIANT' WITH REGULATIONS
Elsewhere Mrs May revealed the cladding applied to refurbish Grenfell Tower may have been used illegally.
"My understanding is this particular cladding was not compliant with the regulations,” she said, while noting that a criminal investigation is ongoing into the use of building materials at the tower.
Yesterday Mrs May said there needed to be a "major national investigation" after cladding on more blocks around the country failed fire safety tests.