Former Tory minister Sam Gyimah has claimed his Labour election rival was partially responsible for the decisions that led to the Grenfell Tower fire.
As reported by 24housing, findings from the first phase of Grenfell public inquiry raise the stakes for Phase 2 in citing “compelling evidence” of the tower being too dangerous to live in.
As highlighted in reports, the “principle reason” why flames spread at such speed was the aluminium composite material (ACM) rainscreen panels with a flammable polyethylene core, which “acted as a source of fuel”.
Gyimah, who was prisons minister under Theresa May at the time of the fire said it was a “deeply complex issue”, caused because the type of cladding meant it was “essentially a candle that people were living in”.
According to reports, Gyimah, now the Liberal Democrat candidate for Kensington, refused to be drawn on suggestions his former party’s policies on austerity and the neglect of social housing played a role in the blaze that killed 72 people.
He instead suggested that current Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad could have stopped some of the decisions that led to the tragedy in her previous role as a Labour councillor.
Dent Coad has called the claim “absolutely sickening”.
She added: “Sam Gyimah is trying to shift the blame for the horror of Grenfell away from austerity, which was imposed by his former party the Conservatives and supported in coalition by his current party, the Lib Dems.
“Labour councillors, working with the community, repeatedly raised concerns about cost-cutting by Kensington Tories, and residents were ignored when they said this was a tragedy waiting to happen.”
Last week Tory frontbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg was forced to apologise after he suggested he would have ignored firefighters’ advice that people should stay in their flats, saying it was “common sense” to “leave the burning building”.
Sam Gyimah, who joined the Liberal Democrats in September, said: “Clearly we know now that this was essentially a candle that people were living in, and that is why this horrific tragedy happened.
“We’ve got to deal with it, and I will be reaching out to the communities, but we’ve got to be very careful that Grenfell is not just part of the party-political knockabout.
“It’s one of those issues that should be above party politics and about the people and their families rather than being part of the culture war that is happening.”