Jeremy Corbyn: Theresa May putting protecting Tories over justice for Grenfell residents
Jeremy Corbyn has accused Theresa May of being more interested in protecting the Conservatives' reputation than delivering justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
The Labour leader said he was "deeply concerned" that issues surrounding social housing and social policy had been excluded from the terms of reference of the inquiry into the tragedy.
Instead, Sir Martin Moore-Bick's probe will only focus on the cause and spread of the fire, the design of the tower and the actions of Kensington and Chelsea Council.
In announcing that the inquiry would formally begin, the Government instead pledged to hold a separate investigation in which housing minister Alok Sharma will meet “as many social housing tenants as possible”.
But in a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Corbyn said that “vague” promise would give “little reassurance” to those residents affected by the blaze, which ripped through the west London building, killing at least 80 people.
“The fire has raised profound concerns about the way that social housing is provided and managed in this country, and I - as well as many survivors - worry that, without a wider focus, the inquiry will fail to get fully to grips with the causes of the fire,” he wrote.
“The fear is that the priority is to avoid criticism of your party’s policy failures rather than secure justice for Grenfell survivors, along with the safety of the many other people who live in social housing in this country.”
He added: “Learning the lessons of the Grenfell fire will require more far-reaching action. I therefore ask that you immediately set out a clear, independent and thorough process for identifying and addressing the broader failings that led to the Grenfell fire.”
The Labour leader said the separate investigation should work “closely” with the Grenfell inquiry and should “include within its remit social housing policy and all aspects of the relationship between residents and the local authority and the tenant management organisation”.
“Only by rooting out the more systemic failings that led to the Grenfell fire will we ensure that nothing like it ever happens again in this country,” he added.
Mr Corbyn’s comments comes after local MP Emma Dent Coad blasted the inquiry as a “betrayal” while shadow fire minister Chris Williamson hit at the Prime Minister’s praise of the inquiry’s scope as a “sick joke”.
The Labour leader also said that residents in tower block who are concerned about their immigration status should be granted "indefinite" leave to remain in the UK, rather than just a 12 month amnesty.
“It seems clear that Sir Martin is indicating a 12 month amnesty is insufficient and that concerns remain that a number of survivors will be discouraged from participating in the inquiry as a result,” Mr Corbyn added.
“I therefore urge you to grant indefinite right to remain in the UK to all survivors who need it, on a discretionary basis. Failure to do so will impede their ability to contribute to the inquiry and may undermine the inquiry itself.”
Elsewhere Mr Corbyn said the pledge to appoint a group of assessors to advise the chair must be clarified as meaning the inclusion of people from ethnic minority backgrounds, to reflect the make-up of the tower’s residents.
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