Tory MPs up in arms as Corbyn attacks May over Grenfell Tower
‘When you cut local authority budgets by 40% we all pay a price.’
Conservative MPs were left fuming as Jeremy Corbyn today blamed Tory cuts for the fire at Grenfell Tower that claimed the lives of at least 79 victims.
Theresa May inadvertently opened the door for Corbyn at Prime Ministers’ Questions, when she tried to argue that cuts to the fire service were not a factor in the tragedy. Rather, she questioned why building inspectors had failed to detect the dangerous cladding at Grenfell Tower.
The prime minister said: "The question is… why is it that fire inspections, that local authority inspections, appear to have missed this essential issue?"
Seizing his chance, the Labour leader shot back: "I think I can help the prime minister with this issue.
"When you cut local authority budgets by 40% you end up with few building control inspectors."
The Labour leader’s comments led to cries of "shame on you!" from angry Tory MPs - and an intervention by the Commons speaker.
But after John Bercow had called for calm, Corbyn carried on: "When you cut local authority budgets by 40% we all pay a price in public safety.
"What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity,” he told the House. This disregard for working-class communities; the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners."
Hitting a serious yet strident tone, he added: "I urge the prime minister to come up with the resources needed... so that all our communities can truly feel safe in their own homes.
"This disaster must be a wake-up call!"
Unable to hold Corbyn responsible for the tragedy, May instead decided to criticise decisions taken by Tony Blair and the last Labour government.
"The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said.
"In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'."