British PM May Tries to Quell Public Anger After Deadly London Fire — Death toll is expected to rise, as at least 60 people remain unaccounted for

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government sought on Saturday to quell anger over a deadly tower block fire by pledging to support the victims of the blaze after protesters jeered her when she visited local residents.

May was rushed away from a meeting with residents on Friday under heavy police guard as protesters shouted “Shame on you” and hundreds stormed a local town hall calling for justice.

Protesters inside the building
Between 50 and 60 protesters rushed into the council building. Reuters photo

After a botched snap election that lost her party its majority in parliament, May is facing criticism for her response to the blaze which engulfed the 24-storey apartment block of social housing on Wednesday, killing at least 30 people.

Residents of the destroyed tower said May was far too slow to visit the stricken community, that the building had been unsafe and that officials have failed to give enough information and support to those who have lost relatives and their homes.

Asked repeatedly whether she had misread the public mood, May did not answer directly but said the focus was on providing support to the victims.

“What I’m now absolutely focused on is ensuring that we get that support on the ground,” May said in a BBC Newsnight interview.

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

May on Saturday was due to chair a meeting on the government’s response to the fire. The death toll is expected to rise, as at least 60 people remain unaccounted for.

Alongside both police and fire investigations into the blaze, she has promised to set up a public inquiry.

She also pledged 5 million pounds ($6.39 million) of support, housing guarantees and help with access to bank accounts and cash. Those who lost their homes will be rehoused within three weeks, she said.

One of her closest allies, Damian Green, defended May on Saturday, adding that a team would go to the area to answer questions from residents.

“The Prime Minister is distraught about what has happened,” said Green, who was appointed May’s deputy in the wake of the general election.

“We’re all desperately sad, we’re all angry, but of course none of us as angry as those who were directly affected. I absolutely get why they’re angry,” Green said.


While the blaze has prompted an outpouring of generosity, with many people donating provisions and clothes, it has also unleashed rage at the authorities as the charred tower was cast as a deadly symbol of a deeply divided society.

Angry protesters chanting “We want justice” stormed their way into the Kensington and Chelsea town hall on Friday.

After a turbulent three months which has seen Britain scarred by three deadly Islamist militant attacks and now the tower blaze, Queen Elizabeth said the mood was deeply somber but that the British people were resolute in the face of adversity.

“It is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood,” Elizabeth said in a message on her official birthday. “The country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies.”

“Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity,” Elizabeth said. “United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favor, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.”

Such a direct message from the monarch is rare and indicated the extent of the turmoil in Britain.

Opponents said May’s handling of the fire has thrust her position further into doubt by showing a failure to feel the public mood and act decisively.


After a tumultuous week that pitched Britain into its deepest political crisis since the Brexit referendum a year ago, May’s future was already uncertain due to her failed gamble on a snap election.

Britain is now likely to go into arduous talks on Monday about its exit from the European Union with a weakened leader who is dependent on a small Northern Irish party.

Matthew Parris, a columnist and former Conservative lawmaker, said May’s response to the fire had shown a lack of judgment which made her unsuitable to be prime minister.

“Wallowing in the wash of a general election that stripped our prime minister of her authority on the very eve of EU negotiations, neither common sense nor the evidence suggest she can re-establish public confidence,” Parris wrote in the Times.

“This prime minister is not viable.”

(Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Bolton)


Theresa May has been criticised as “inhuman and uncaring” after she sidestepped questions about the Grenfell Tower fire.

In an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight, Theresa May called the incident which killed at least 30 people “absolutely horrifying”.

But asked whether she had failed to judge the public mood by host Emily Maitlis, Ms May appeared to skip over the question.

The host suggested the public needed an acknowledgement of responsibility from the government.

But Ms May replied: “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.”

She was then asked if she had misread the level of public anger towards her.

“What I have done since this incident took place is, first of all, 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,” Ms May replied.

Pressing further, Ms Maitlis asked where she failed to understand public anger, given that she hadn’t’t initially met with residents.

Again the Prime Minister appeared to evade the question.

“This was a terrible tragedy that took place,” she said. 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.

She added: “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 re-housed, but we need to make sure that that actually happens.”

Trying a different angle, Ms Maitlis suggested that the tragedy could have been prevented, highlighting a 2013 coroner’s report that recommended putting sprinklers in all the buildings in the surrounding area. She also pointed out that a cheaper, flammable cladding had been used.

Theresa May remained persistent in her response: “We have yet to find out what the cause of the fire was. The fire service is doing that. The fire services are looking at what the cause of the fire was. It is important that we get to the bottom of this and find out exactly what happened.

“The government has taken action on the recommendation of the coroner report. But what we need to do in relation to this incident – to this horrifying fire – is to make sure that we get to the bottom of why this fire took place, what happened, why did it spread so unexpectedly and so ferociously and so quickly.”

Viewers accused the prime minister of “blatantly ignoring” Maitlis’ questions, with one Twitter user writing: “Theresa May is precisely the kind of leader we know we don’t need at a time like this.”

Another wrote: “Infuriated by Theresa May on Newsnight.The woman only talks in soundbites,” and a third accused her of being “inhuman.”

“How can someone be so inhuman and uncaring? Theresa May is a write off now more than ever.”

How can someone be so inhuman and uncaring? @theresa_may is a write off now more than ever. Great interview from @maitlis.

It marked the end of the bruising day for the Prime Minister who had earlier been accused of being a “coward” as she she left a church, which was being used as a support hub for victims of the fire.

As she left through a side door people chanted: “Shame on you”.

The Prime Minister had been meeting victims, residents and volunteers at St Clement’s Church in north Kensington, after she was accused of failing to show “humility” when she refused to meet locals during a visit the day before.

Thousands of Londoners also marched on Downing Street to demand answers and justice over the deadly blaze.

Theresa May has pledged to set up a £5 million fund for emergency supplies, and  said that residents will be re-homed in the borough, or neighbouring boroughs within three weeks.


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2 Responses to “British PM May Tries to Quell Public Anger After Deadly London Fire — Death toll is expected to rise, as at least 60 people remain unaccounted for”

  1. Brittius Says:

    Reblogged this on Brittius and commented:
    The woman is finished.

  2. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

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