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Theresa May sidesteps questions about response to Grenfell Tower disaster

The Prime Minister avoided questions about whether she had misjudged the mood of the public.

Theresa May has sidestepped questions over her response to the Grenfell Tower disaster, after facing criticism of her reaction to the tragedy.

The Prime Minister met a group of victims, residents, volunteers and community leaders at a church close to the scene of the horrific blaze, and earlier visited survivors in hospital.

But the visits, which took place more than 48 hours after the devastating fire broke out, have done little to quell the growing anger over the way Mrs May has dealt with the tragedy.

As she left St Clement’s Church following a visit lasting less than an hour, the PM faced cries of “coward” and “shame on you”.

One woman wept saying it was because Mrs May had declined to speak to anyone outside the meeting.

In a television interview, Mrs May said the fire was “absolutely horrifying” and had been a “terrifying experience” for those affected.

But she sidestepped questions over whether she had failed to judge the public mood.

Told there was a need for the public to hear her say something had gone badly wrong and the Government accepted responsibility, Mrs May said: “Something terrible has happened.

“This is an absolutely awful fire that took place. People have lost their lives, people have had their homes destroyed, they have fled for their lives with absolutely nothing.”

Asked if she had misread the public anger, she replied: “What I have done since this incident took place is, first of all, yesterday ensure that the public services had the support they need in order to be able to do the job they were doing in the immediate aftermath.”

Pressed again on whether she had failed to understand the anger felt by the public, she said: “This was a terrible tragedy that took place. People have lost their lives and others have lost everything, all their possessions, their home and everything.

“What we are doing is putting in place the support that will help them.

“But it is a terrible tragedy. I have heard horrifying stories from the fire brigade, from police and from victims themselves who were in that tower but also from other local residents, some of whom of course have not been able to go back to their homes either.

“What I’m now absolutely focused on is ensuring that we get that support on the ground.

“Government is making money available, we are ensuring we are going to get to the bottom of what happened, we will ensure that people are rehoused, but we need to make sure that that actually happens.”

Mrs May said the public inquiry into the fire will take place “as soon as possible” and insisted the Government had acted on previous warnings about tower block safety by a coroner.

“The Government has taken action on the recommendations of the coroner’s report,” she insisted.

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