'Disgraceful': Theresa May criticised for citing her Grenfell response as a success
24 May 2019, 16:31 | Updated: 24 May 2019, 19:43
Theresa May's decision to include her response to the Grenfell Tower fire in her resignation speech has been branded "disgraceful" by firefighters.
In her tearful speech outside 10 Downing St, Mrs May cited the inquiry she launched into the fire in Kensington as proof that she wanted "to fight the burning injustices that still scar our society".
The fire on 14 June 2017 killed at least 72 people.
The inquiry was launched in September the same year, but is unlikely to conclude before the end of 2021.
The fire brigades union and Kensington Labour MP both criticised Mrs May for her reference to the tragedy as she reflected on her perceived successes in her three years as prime minister.
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, 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, who unexpectedly won the Kensington seat in 2017, issued a statement which 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.
"She has consistently failed to meet any of her own deadlines to house people. She has failed to make any meaningful legislative changes in regards to combustible cladding, to the extent that the building trade and architects have little idea what to specify."
She added: "The inquiry is so narrowly focused that it threatens to exonerate the perpetrators of this avoidable atrocity and may not give any recommendations.
"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."
Grenfell United, the campaign group, said Mrs May's interventions had 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."
Outside Number 10 as she confirmed she would leave her job, Mrs May had said: "But the unique privilege of this office is to use this platform to give a voice to the voiceless, to fight the burning injustices that still scar our society.
"And that is why I set up the independent public 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."
Last June, 12 months after the tragedy, Mrs May had admitted she would always regret her response.
She had said: "It was a tragedy unparalleled in recent history and, although many people did incredible work during and after the fire, it has long been clear that the initial response was not good enough.
"I include myself in that. The day after the disaster I made the first of a number of trips to the site, thanking the firefighters for their work and holding a short meeting with the team in charge of the response.
"What I did not do on that first visit was meet the residents and survivors who had escaped the blaze.
"But the residents of Grenfell Tower needed to know that those in power recognised and understood their despair.
"And I will always regret that by not meeting them that day, it seemed as though I didn't care. That was never the case."
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he did not recognise the country she had described.