Theresa May gave an interview to BBC’s Newsnight on 16 June. But any credibility she was trying to recover in the wake of the Grenfell fire was lost. May used the interview to lie repeatedly about the action the government had taken after the Lakanal House fire.
Interviewer Emily Maitlis challenged May:
This was preventable, wasn’t it? In 2013, a coroner had safety recommendations which included putting sprinklers in all these buildings. And it was never done. There was two types of material that could have been used in the cladding. One was flammable and one was fireproof. And the fireproof one cost £2 more. Was that not £2 worth spending?
The fire service are looking are looking at what the cause of the fire was.
But you were recommended this in 2013. You were in government there. And the coroner said you can stop this with a sprinkler system in every block.
May responded with a lie:
And the government has taken action on the recommendations of the coroner’s report.
Repeating the lie
But Maitlis tried again to challenge the PM:
But we know that Gavin Barwell sat on a report from last October that he should have looked at. He knew about these recommendations…
And May repeated the lie:
No. The government acted on recommendations from the coroner’s report.
But it is very unclear what “action”, if any, the government took. Although it is very clear that a sprinkler system was not installed in the tower. In fact, it was her own Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell who has been accused of sitting on a report into fire safety.
Following a fire at Lakanal House in South London in 2009 where six people were killed, a review of fire safety in tower blocks was promised. An investigation into the fire at Lakanal House found that there were failings including inadequate fire risk assessments and panels on the exterior walls not providing the required fire resistance.
In 2016, Barwell promised that the government would review the regulations into fire safety. But this was not done. And in March 2017, a spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said the review would be done “in due course”.
This didn’t happen. But this hasn’t prevented May from claiming that “action” has been taken.
More government lies
The interview also exposed more government lies. On 15 June, housing minister Alok Sharma told parliament that he could:
guarantee that every single family from Grenfell House will be rehoused in the local area.
But on 16 June, Kensington and Chelsea Council announced that:
it is possible the council will have to explore housing options that may become available in other parts of the capital.
And May’s interview highlighted that Sharma’s promises were lies. May stated:
We are committed to ensuring that people are rehoused, as far as possible, within the borough.
Anger, frustration, and grief
People are taking to the streets. They are angry and frustrated. But moreover, they are grieving. People have lost loved ones, friends and neighbours. And they are not getting answers.
Meanwhile, May has taken to Newsnight to propagate lies when all the evidence points to a complete lack of government action on the recommendations following the Lakanal House fire. Even if the government has taken some action in the wake of Lakanal House, given the circumstances, May is giving a false impression of what the government has done.
And it explains exactly why protesters are demanding the end of her and her government.
– If you are concerned about anyone from Grenfell Tower, call the Casualty Bureau on 0800 0961 233 or 0207 158 0197
– Donate to the Grenfell Tower Appeal
Featured image via screengrab