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WATCH: Furious members of the public confront minister over Theresa May failure to meet Grenfell Tower victims

Emilio Casalicchio

4 min read

A top minister was today confronted by members of the public angry that Theresa May has failed to meet victims of the Grenfell Tower blaze.

Andrea Leadsom said the Prime Minister was “trying to get a grip” on the horrific event and insisted Mrs May was “absolutely heartbroken” by the tragedy.

Tory ex-deputy leader Michael Portillo last night said the Prime Minister had refused to show her “humanity”.

Commons leqader Ms Leadsom was one of a number of senior Conservative figures to defend Mrs May after she met only the emergency services in the wake of the inferno.

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.

And today the Queen, flanked by prince William, turned up at the Westway Centre, which is housing those affected by the tragedy.

Tackled by residents of the area today, Ms Leadsom insisted: “The Prime Minister is absolutely heartbroken.”

She was told to her face by one angry member of the public: “[Jeremy Corbyn is a good man. He came and he met the people. He didn't come with a bunch of police. No one saw her."

Turning on the local authority cuts imposed by the Conservatives, the man added: “Because of saving money people are dying."

But Ms Leadsom insisted: “The Prime Minister is trying to get a grip on this.”



Meanwhile Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said this morning: “Different people show their emotion in different ways. The Prime Minister is a person of action and she wants to help.”

Defence Minister Tobias Elwood told BBC Question Time there were "security concerns" that prevented Mrs May meeting victims - a claim called into question by the Queen’s visit.

And Tory MP Chris Philp said Mrs May did not wish to be "grandstanding" on TV at a time of grief for those who had lost or were still unsure about the fate of loved ones.

"She was keen not to intrude and cause disruption at a time of intense anxiety and grief," he told BBC Newsnight.

"What she’s trying to do is be practical, talk to the emergency services, find out what needs to be done rather than grandstanding in front of the TV cameras.

"I’m sure she will meet the families but the day after they’ve lost their loved ones the last think you need is the Prime Minister of the country sort of elbowing their way in."


Mr Portillo laid into the Prime Minister on This Week, 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…

“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.”

Ms Harman meanwhile tweeted that Mrs May should have been "prepared to listen" to residents and urged her to welcome them to Downing Street.



Elsewhere, Mr Javid said residents in other at-risk tower blocks could be re-housed so the hazardous buildings can be knocked down if the investigation into the Grenfell blaze recommends it.

He insisted: “There can be no shortcuts to this. Whatever they tell us is required to make those people safe, whether it’s changes to their buildings whether it’s rehousing, whatever it is, that is what will have to be done.”

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