Grenfell Tower fire: Every single death could have been avoided and 'urgent answers needed', says Jeremy Corbyn

'From Hillsborough to the child sex abuse scandal to Grenfell Tower, the pattern is consistent. Working class people’s voices are ignored by those in power,' says Labour leader

May Bulman
Thursday 22 June 2017 09:53 BST
Jeremy Corbyn says every one of the Grenfell deaths were avoidable

Jeremy Corbyn has said "every single one" of the Grenfell Tower deaths could have been avoided, and called for "urgent answers" following the tragedy which killed at least 79 people.

The Labour leader compared the blaze to Hillsborough and the child sex abuse scandal, marking it out as one of a string of disasters in which working class voices were "ignored".

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Corbyn said: “[Grenfell Tower residents] were let down, both in the immediate aftermath and so cruelly beforehand, The public enquiry most establish the extent and by whom.

“At least 79 people are dead. It is both a tragedy and an outrage, because every single one of those deaths should and could have been avoided."

He added: “From Hillsborough to the child sex abuse scandal to Grenfell Tower, the pattern is consistent. Working class people’s voices are ignored, their concerns dismissed by those in power.

“The Grenfell Tower residents and north Kensington community deserves answers, and thousands and thousands of people living in tower blocks around the country need very urgent reassurance.”

Mr Corbyn went on to ask Theresa May why the political leaders of Kensington and Chelsea Council were not “taking responsibility as well for this whole dreadful event”, following the resignation of the chief executive.

He said something had gone "catastrophically wrong" for the fire to happen, and urged for "urgent answers" to ensure people living in the 4,000 other tower blocks in the UK, calling the incident a "wake-up call to the whole country".

“It is my suspicion, that many local authorities, strapped for cash after seven years of cuts, have cut back on fire testing and inspections because they simply haven’t got the staff to do it anymore," said Mr Corbyn.

“This has been a wake-up call to the whole country. The fire at Grenfell Tower has taken the lives of people who should be with us and alive and happy today. Now residents of tower blocks all over the country are concerned, worried and frightened for their own safety.

"What we need is a step change in our attitude towards housing in this country, to deal with the permanent hosuing crisis that so many of our constituents and residents face.”

He added that firefighters were “traumatised”, “overstretched and understaffed” in the wake of the London Bridge terror attack and the Grenfell blaze, and called for the “whole issue of the security of our fire service” to be looked at.

The Labour leader's remarks came after the Prime Minister said tests following the Grenfell Tower fire had shown cladding on “a number” of tower blocks acorss the UK are “combustible" — a revelation described by Labour MP Harriet Harman as "chilling".

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