Jeremy Corbyn: Each Grenfell Tower death ‘could and should have been avoided’
He said the residents of Grenfell Tower were “let down both in the immediate aftermath and so cruelly beforehand”.
Jeremy Corbyn has said each of the Grenfell Tower fire deaths “could and should have been avoided”, as it emerged combustible cladding has been found on at least 11 other tower blocks.
Mr Corbyn compared the tragedy with the Hillsborough disaster and child abuse scandals, saying: “The pattern is consistent: working-class people’s voices are ignored, their concerns dismissed by those in power.”
And he said thousands of people living in tower blocks around the country needed urgent assurances about their own safety.
Downing Street has since confirmed that 11 blocks of flats in eight local authority areas in England have been found to have flammable facades, with tests being conducted urgently to see if many more could have the same material, which is suspected of helping the Grenfell blaze spread.
Updating MPs on the tragedy earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The relevant local authorities and local fire services have been informed, and, as I speak, they are taking all possible steps to ensure buildings are safe and to inform affected residents.”
Mrs May also said the tragedy will not be used to carry out immigration checks on those affected or on those providing “vital” information to identify victims or to assist the criminal investigation into the fire.
She said “no stone will be left unturned” in the inquiry into the tragedy, adding: “For any guilty parties there will be nowhere to hide.”
Govt must ensure resources needed for testing tower blocks for combustible cladding & rehousing people locally are urgently made available. pic.twitter.com/rrEVW00zcx— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) June 22, 2017
Mrs May told the Commons she expected the judge leading the public inquiry to bring out an interim report, and said: “What I think we very much want to ensure is that when the judge takes charge of this inquiry that people feel, as I said earlier, that they can have full confidence in the inquiry and so we are taking steps to ensure that that’s the case.”
In reply, Mr Corbyn said the residents of Grenfell Tower were “let down both in the immediate aftermath and so cruelly beforehand” and that the public inquiry “must establish the extent and by who”.
Mr Corbyn told MPs: “At least 79 people are dead. It is both a tragedy and an outrage because every single one of those deaths could and should have been avoided.”
Two of the 11 buildings so far confirmed by the Government to have flammable facades are the Chalcots Estate in north London, which is removing the cladding, and the Mount Wise Tower in Plymouth. A third building is in the Manchester area.
But while the samples taken from the 11 buildings failed Government tests it did not mean the tower blocks were unsafe, with that to be determined after more checks by the fire and rescue services, Mrs May’s deputy spokeswoman said.
Separately, Newlon Housing Trust confirmed the 22-storey tower block Rivers Apartments, in Tottenham, north London, was clad with Reynobond PE – which Grenfell tower was reportedly covered with.
A spokesman said the London Fire Brigade had carried out a safety audit and were satisfied it was a “low-risk fire building”, adding that they would comply with any further instructions.
The housing association was awaiting recommendations from experts to determine whether the cladding should be replaced, he added.