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BBC Question Time Sees Lifelong Tory Supporter Slam Theresa May Over Grenfell Tower Fire

'She went to Grenfell Tower. She didn’t speak to any residents. How is that engagement?'

16/06/2017 09:12 | Updated 16 June 2017

Theresa May’s “wibbly wobbly” leadership and her failure to “engage” with residents affected by the Grenfell Tower fire has been slammed on BBC Question Time by an audience member who declared, “I will never vote Tory again”.

A guest on the programme began by decrying the party over Brexit, saying: “Maybe if the Tory party that I voted for didn’t have a wibbly wobbly leader in the first place we’d get a better deal.”

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BBC Question Time audience member says he will never vote Tory again while Theresa May is leader

Before turning his attention to May’s response to the tower fire: “Theresa May hasn’t engaged with anyone. She went to Grenfell Tower. She didn’t speak to any residents. How is that engagement?”

The PM was heavily criticised on Thursday after failing to speak to residents at the scene of the fire that has so far claimed 17 lives. Her Visit was in stark contrast to that of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who was pictured embracing residents

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood attempted to defend May’s reported snub of residents, claiming “there are reasons for that”, before clarifying that there were “security concerns that were made there. She’s made it very, very clear.”

Ellwood was then reminded that Corbyn “spoke to residents”, before he changed tact to concede the Conservative Party had made mistakes during the election but were on track with Brexit talks.  

“She is now moving forward and made it clear, and I put my hand up to say, ‘we made mistakes...’, this was not a good election for the Conservative Party, but the result is such...”

TOLGA AKMEN via Getty Images
Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to fire chief Dany Cotton during a visit to Grenfell Tower

The man interjected: “But I’ll never vote Tory again while Theresa May is leader.”

Ellwood continued: “To form a government, which is what we are doing with the DUP, and now we must move forward, and the Brexit discussions will begin on Monday, as has been indicated.”

The man was then asked by host David Dimbleby to reaffirm his voting intentions, and he replied: “I’ve always voted Tory... but I’ll never bote Tory again with Theresa May is leader.” 

Speaking on BBC This Week, Journalist and former Tory MP Michael Portillo, derided May for her visit to the fire scene, but said it was in keeping with the way she had acted during the General Election campaign.

“May was what she has been for the last 5-6 weeks, in that she wanted an entirely controlled situation in which she didn’t use her humanity,” he explained.

“So she met in private with the emergency services, a good thing to do no doubt. But she should have been there with the residents, which is what Jeremy Corbyn was, and he was there hugging people and being natural with them. The Prime Minister would have been shouted out by the residents, but, you know, she should have been willing to take that.”

When host Nick Ferrari pointed out that London Mayor Sadiq Khan had been “heckled” at the scene, Portillo said that was part of the job: “But it is not his fault. It is not her (May’s) fault, but you have to be prepared to receive peoples’ emotions... not to be frightened by people.”

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Michael Portillo on BBC This Week

Portillo added that the tragedy had cast a dark shadow over Britain, but he hoped it would bring about “dramatic changes”.

“I think it sent a shameful image of this country around the world. To see public housing blazing like a torch, it is a shameful image,” he said.

“It reminds me of the King’s Cross fire (November 1987; 31 deaths), Hillsborough (April 1989; 96 deaths) and the one bit of comfort I draw from this is that King’s Cross and Hillsborough led to dramatic changes in their fields. And this will lead to dramatic changes in public housing. I think many tower blocks will be torn down.”

Labour MP Liz Kendall told the programme that the tragedy should “never have happened in the richest city in one of the richest countries in the world” and that the public “rightly” deserve answers and to see “people held responsible, and held to account”.

In describing the blaze as “hell on earth”, Kendall said the tragedy was something you might hear about in a “Third World Country”, not the UK.

“The unimaginable horror of what people have been through and seen will live with them for years to come, but people want answers and quickly.”

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