UK Grenfell Tower fire: Jeremy Corbyn calls Government’s response an ‘unacceptable failure’

The Government has been accused of an “unacceptable” failure by Jeremy Corbyn after a promise made just 24 hours earlier to rehouse all Grenfell fire victims near their old homes began to crumble.

On a day when thousands of people took to the streets to demand answers and justice over the deadly blaze, the Labour leader said ministers had a duty to stick to their guarantee, but officials attempting to find places for those displaced gave the impression of being overwhelmed.

Demonstrators chanting “justice for Grenfell” and “May must go” marched from the Home Office to Downing Street, while a separate rally made its way from Kensington and Chelsea council headquarters to the burnt out shell of the 24-storey tower.

Earlier, hundreds gathered at the town hall, where scores forced their way into the building, to deliver a list of demands, including the immediate rehousing of all victims within the borough.

The Government admitted it may be necessary to push some residents out across the capital, despite Communities Secretary Sajid Javid having repeated the promise to keep people local hours earlier.

The Prime Minister sought to undo bad publicity from her failure to meet residents on a site trip on Thursday, by finally visiting victims in a London hospital.

She later, under heavy policy guard, visited St Clement’s Church, a community hub that has been offering support to residents since the fire, but was greeted by angry crowds, who shouted “coward” and “shame on you” as she left via a side door, again, without facing the public. Inside the church, the Prime Minister announced a £5m fund for emergency supplies, food and clothing. She said residents would be rehomed within three weeks “as far as possible within the borough, or in neighbouring boroughs”, but stopped short of guaranteeing they would not be sent further afield.

She added that “some people may actually want to go to another part of London where perhaps they have a greater support network”.

Earlier, Londoners confronted and shouted at a Tory cabinet minister at the scene of the fire, while Ms May’s chief of staff fled reporters asking why he had failed to undertake a called-for safety review.

With rehousing victims a main priority, Mr Corbyn told The Independent: “It is absolutely critical that all the residents of Grenfell Tower are rehoused in the community they love.

“It is unacceptable that at this time of intense stress and trauma for them, the council and the Government are not able to guarantee this. The entire community has been affected by the fire and are looking to the country to assist in their hour of need. We must not let them down.

“All those made homeless by the fire must be housed in the borough, using all methods possible to make this happen, including, if necessary, requisitioning empty properties.”

His call was echoed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who wrote an open letter to Theresa May demanding that she confirm “as a matter of urgency” that everyone from Grenfell Tower and other evacuated properties “will be rehoused locally immediately”.

The Independent 

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