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Theresa May is ‘not one of those people who shows emotion as openly as others’, says Tory MP

The Prime Minister was accused of misreading the public mood in response to the deadly blaze and lacking empathy for its victims

Maya Oppenheim
Sunday 18 June 2017 15:19 BST
The PM was accused of misreading the public mood in response to the deadly blaze
The PM was accused of misreading the public mood in response to the deadly blaze

A Tory MP has argued Theresa May struggles to show her emotions as openly and plainly as others do, despite the fact the current media climate necessitates her to do so.

Bob Neill, the MP for Bromley and Chislehurst and chairman of the Justice Select Committee, made the assertion while attempting to defend the Prime Minister’s handling of the Grenfell Tower catastrophe.

Ms May has been subject to fierce criticism from her own Conservative Party members, Labour MPs, and local Grenfell residents for her response to the catastrophic west London blaze which is thought to have claimed at least 58 lives.

The PM was accused of lacking empathy and misreading the public mood in the wake of the deadly blaze after she failed to meet residents at the scene of the fire-ravaged building and engaged in stiff interviews, which left numerous questions unanswered.

Mr Neill told the BBC’s Sunday Politics London: “I think she has done the workman like thing. She is not one of those people who perhaps shows emotion as openly as some of us do... In the media world, sometimes you do need to.”

“I am aware that she had particular security advice as to whether or not it was entirely helpful for a Prime Ministerial visit to the scene immediately.”

The MP, who is a barrister, is by no means the first member of his party to comment on Ms May’s apparent lack of compassion in response to Wednesday's inferno.

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities, sought to defend his leader on Friday and argued that people show their emotions in different ways.

Michael Portillo, the former deputy leader of the Conservative Party, accused Ms May of failing to show “humanity” after she refused to meet any survivors of the horrendous fire on a visit to the site and blocked media access.

Comparing Ms May’s response to that of the Labour leader, Mr Portillo told the BBC’s This Week: “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.”

The bitter anger over Ms May’s response to the disaster comes after the PM’s decision to call a snap election dramatically backfired, leaving the Conservatives with a hung parliament, no overall Commons majority and dented authority. Ms May was criticised for an inability to properly engage with the public – she refused to debate with Mr Corbyn or attend the party leaders debate – and adopting stilted, repetitive slogans during the election campaign.

Grief over the fire has rapidly metamorphosed into rage as it has become clear the fatalities had been drastically understated and the catastrophe could have been prevented. Over the weekend, Ms May was subject to chants of “coward” as she left a church, which is being used as a support space for victims of the fire, and demonstrators shouted “May must go” as they marched from the Home Office to Downing Street.

Police say 58 people are still missing after the devastating inferno and are presumed dead. Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police warned the death toll could increase yet further.

At 58 casualties, it would make the Grenfell Tower blaze the deadliest in the capital since the Second World War.

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