Michael Portillo: Theresa May 'hid her humanity' by refusing to meet Grenfell Tower residents
Theresa May refused to meet residents affected by the Grenfell Tower blaze because she did not want to show her “humanity”, Michael Portillo said last night.
In a scathing assessment of the Prime Minister, the former Conservative minister also said Mrs May was a “proven loser” and would not last in the job beyond September this year.
Mrs May yesterday announced a full public inquiry into the west London tower block disaster which has so far claimed at least 17 lives with the death toll expected to rise.
She visited the site and met with emergency workers - but failed to meet any of the survivors or community representatives.
By contrast, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke with victims at a refuge centre in the area and was pictured hugging a woman who is searching for a missing 12-year-old girl.
Tory ex-deputy leader Mr Portillo laid into the Prime Minister last night, saying: “Alas, Mrs May was what’s she’s been for the last five or six weeks, and that is to say she wanted an entirely controlled situation in which she didn’t use her humanity.
“She met in private with the emergency services, a good thing to do no doubt. But she should have been there with the residents, which is what Jeremy Corbyn was. And he was there hugging people and being natural with them.”
Appearing on the BBC's This Week, he added: “The Prime Minister would have been shouted at by the residents, but she should have been willing to take that. You have to be prepared to receive people’s emotions and not be so frightened about people.”
Labour former deputy leader Harriet Harman meanwhile tweeted that Mrs May should have been "prepared to listen" to residents.
On Question Time last night, Tory minister Tobias Ellwood blamed "security concerns" for the decision to keep the Prime Minister away from local residents.
Speaking yesterday, Mrs May said: "Right now, people want answers, and it’s absolutely right and that’s why I am today ordering a full public inquiry into this disaster.
"We need to know what happened, we need to have an explanation of this, we owe that to the families, to the people who have lost loved ones, friends and the homes in which they lived."
Meanwhile, Mr Portillo lamented that the Conservatives were in a “terrible quandary” over how they should move forward - and he was frank about Mrs May’s future.
“She’s not going to be Prime Minister for very much longer. I’d be amazed if she made it to the conference, which is in October,” he said.
“The only person who could lead the party who is a proven winner is Ruth Davidson. Theresa May is a proven loser.
“None of the others have much to offer and deeply unattractive to the public. The Tories are in a terrible quandary.”