Andy Burnham was applauded by MPs on Wednesday after he said the country needed to do some "soul searching" in the wake of the Hillsborough verdict.
Home secretary Theresa May praised the "extraordinary dignity and determination" of the families of those who died.
Yesterday an inquest found 96 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed in the 1989 disaster.
Burnham, the shadow home secretary, said the result was "at long last justice for the 96, for their families, for all Liverpool supporters, for an entire city".
He added: "What kind of country leaves people, who did no more than wave off their loved ones to a football match, still sitting in a courtroom 27 years later, begging for the reputations of their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and fathers."
Burnham said the Hillsborough cover-up "went right to the top" of politics but singled out May for praise.
"I express my sincere admiration and gratitude for her for the stance she has consistently taken in righting this wrong," he said.
May told the Commons the verdict was of "national significance" that "raises significant issues for the way that the state and its agencies deal with disasters".
"Once the formal investigations are concluded we should step back, reflect and act if necessary so that we can better respond to disasters and ensure that the suffering of families is taken into account," she said.
The home secretary also praised Burnham for having campaigned "so tirelessly over the years" on behalf of the Hillsborough families.
She added: "For 27 years the families and survivors of Hillsborough have fought for justice. They have faced hostility, opposition and obfuscation, and the authorities that should have been trusted, have laid blame and tried to protect themselves instead of acting in the public interest. But the families have never faltered in their pursuit of the truth.
"No one should have to endure what the families and survivors have been through. No one should have to suffer the loss of their loved ones through such appalling circumstances, and no one should have to fight year after year, decade after decade, in search of the truth. "