May branded ‘disgraceful’ after mentioning Grenfell in departure speech
The Prime Minister cited the inquiry into the fire as one of the ways she sought to fight injustice.
Theresa May’s mention of her response to the Grenfell Tower fire in her resignation speech has been described as “disgraceful” by the Fire Brigades Union.
The Prime Minister, who will step down on June 7, mentioned the inquiry into the tragedy as she outlined how she used her premiership “to fight the burning injustices that still scar our society”.
Matt Wrack, the Fire Brigades Union general secretary, issued a statement shortly after the speech on Friday, describing her response as “awful”.
Grenfell United, the campaign group, also said residents were “devastatingly let down by the Government”.
The fire in North Kensington, west London, on June 14 2017 claimed the lives of 72 people.
An inquiry was launched in September that year but is not expected to conclude until at least the end of 2021.
Kensington Labour MP Emma Dent Coad also issued a strongly-worded statement in which she said the Prime Minister should be “ashamed”.
Mrs May said she “set up the independent inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower to search for the truth so nothing like it can ever happen again, and so the people who lost their lives that night are never forgotten”.
Mr Wrack said: “Many of the underlying issues at Grenfell were due to unsafe conditions that had been allowed to fester under Tory governments and a council for which Theresa May bears ultimate responsibility.
“The inquiry she launched has kicked scrutiny of corporate and government interests into the long grass, denying families and survivors justice, while allowing business as usual to continue for the wealthy.
“For the outgoing prime minister to suggest that her awful response to Grenfell is a proud part of her legacy is, frankly, disgraceful.”
Emma Dent Coad said: “From the first day of her awkward visit to Grenfell, to her last day congratulating herself for failures, Theresa May should be ashamed of her actions and lack of leadership.
“Her predecessor’s ‘bonfire of red tape’ was responsible for the decimation of building and fire safety regulations yet she did nothing to redress this.”
Ms Dent Coad said Mrs May “failed” to meet rehousing deadlines or change legislation around cladding which caused the fire to spread rapidly.
“The inquiry is so narrowly focused that it threatens to exonerate the perpetrators of this avoidable atrocity and may not give any recommendations,” she added.
“The Commission set up to decide the future of the site has divided the community.
“As one survivor said, ‘Grenfell Two is in the post’. Quite a legacy.”
Our response to Theresa May's speech today:— Grenfell United (@GrenfellUnited) May 24, 2019
"Whoever becomes Prime Minister will inherit the moral debt owed by this Government to the families of 72 people who lost their lives."
"We will not rest until there is justice and change."#Grenfell pic.twitter.com/amR1VWRLyM
Grenfell United said the Prime Minister’s “personal interventions have not delivered change”.
A statement said: “It’s hard to think of a greater injustice in recent years than Grenfell. We were devastatingly let down by the Government before, during and after the fire.
“We recognise that after her initial failings Theresa May has personally engaged with survivors and bereaved families, but two years later her personal interventions have not delivered change.
“The Government promised that ‘no stone will be left unturned’ in the fight for justice.
“Whoever becomes Prime Minister will inherit the moral debt owed by this Government to the families of 72 people who lost their lives.”
The group said the Government has “failed” to deliver reform in response to the tragedy and “made the past two years a battle for survivors and bereaved”.
“Two years on justice is still a long way away,” the statement added.
“We are in the same position we were in June 2017. Whoever comes in next needs to understand the Grenfell issue will be there for them to pick up. We will not rest until there is justice and change.”