Theresa May announces full public inquiry into Grenfell Tower blaze
Theresa May has announced a public inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower as the death toll from the inferno today rose to 17 with more fatalities expected.
The Prime Minister said people rightfully “want answers” after a blaze ripped through the west London tower block early on Wednesday morning.
Mrs May said it was essential that the “terrible tragedy” is properly investigated, as she pledged to provide “every assistance necessary” to the emergency services and local authority dealing with the aftermath of the blaze.
Earlier London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for a public inquiry into the tragic events, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded answers to “hard questions” surrounding the fire.
Mrs May met police officers and other emergence services crew as visited the scene in Kensington, west London this morning.
Speaking this lunchtime, she 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.
“At times like the response of the community has been extraordinary. It has shown the great spirit of people in responding to a tragedy such as this.
“I’ve ordered that the cross-government group that is meeting to ensure that the response is properly coordinated will meet again today… and the Government stands ready to provide every assistance necessary to the emergency services and to the local authority.
"I know we’ve all heard absolutely heart breaking – as I did this morning – heart-breaking stories of the people who were caught up in this terrible, terrible tragedy.
“And I want to reassure the residents of Grenfell tower, all of whom are in our thoughts and prayers at the moment, I want to reassure them that the Government will make every effort to ensure that they’re rehoused in London and as close as possible to home.”
Mr Corbyn yesterday argued the lethal high rise fire was the “price paid” for Conservative cuts to local authorities in recent years.
He also pointed the finger at successive ministers - including Mrs May's new chief of staff, Gavin Barwell - for not acting on a report into building regulations following a similar fire in Camberwell, south London, in 2009.
Speaking after visiting the site and meeting local residents, Mr Corbyn added: “Some very hard questions have got to be asked and some very hard questions must be answered. A construction of a tower block is essentially a series of concrete boxes, which are the flats.
“ The fire is not supposed to spread from one flat to another. It’s supposed to be contained. It wasn’t, it spread and it spread upwards and it spread outside as well through the cladding.
“[There are] questions on the sprinkler system, questions on the fire breaks, questions on why the cladding apparently burned, questions on building control regulations, questions on the safety.
“Hundreds of thousands of people in our country live in tower blocks, live in very high rise tower blocks. Every single person who lives in a high rise apartment today is going to be thinking, ‘how safe am I?’"
He insisted that Labour would press the Government to ensure that answers are found to what led to the appalling events, and called on ministers to find the necessary resources to ensure other tower blocks are safe.
“The resources have to be found, because you cannot allow people to live in a dangerous state. That is a worry obviously, but the resources have to be found and we will demand and make sure those resources are found.”
Labour MP David Lammy, whose friend remains unaccounted for after the blaze, this morning branded the London tower block blaze an act of “corporate manslaughter”.
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