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David Lammy Fights Back Tears Describing Khadija Saye, Who Died In Grenfell Tower Fire

'This is what Dickens was writing about in the century before last, and it’s still here in 2017.'

16/06/2017 20:52

David Lammy has fought back tears while describing his friend who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Labour MP had frantically appealed for information about Khadija Saye, an artist his wife had mentored, when she was unaccounted for after fire gutted the 24-storey tower she lived in on Wednesday.

On Friday, as the death toll rose to 30 and many more remained missing, it was confirmed she had died.

PA Wire/PA Images
A poster with a picture of Khadija Saye when she was missing, close to the scene of the fire

After her death was confirmed, Lammy tweeted:

Appearing on Channel 4 News, Lammy said: “She was a young black woman making her way in this country...

“She’d done amazing things — gone to university, the best in her life — but she’s died, with her mother, on the 22nd floor of the building.

Becoming emotional, he said: “And it breaks my heart, that it’s happening in Britain in 2017.”

Lammy’s interview was broadcast amid a fraught evening of anger and protests in London, which saw people storme Kensington Town Hall, chase Theresa May from the borough and march on Downing Street.

Lammy said “This is a tale of two cities. This is what Dickens was writing about in the century before last, and it’s still here in 2017.”

He said his 24-year-old friend had not yet achieved the “power or locus or agency” to be able move out of the tower.

He said Grenfell raises isues about the decline of the welfare state.

“For your middle-class viewers, this is about whether the welfare state is just schools and hospitals or about whether it’s about having a safety net,” he said.

Holding his threat and losing his voice, he added: “I get quite emotional as I say that. We need to live in a society where we care for the poorest and vulnerable.

“And that means housing, it means somewhere decent to live. It was a noble idea that we built and it’s falling apart around our eyes.

“If it’s taken this tragedy to bring that home to people, who are lucky enough to live in very different circumstances, then thank God. It’s about the welfare state.”

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