LONDON — Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Wednesday that the Grenfell Tower tragedy was a “wake-up call” about the “disastrous” impact of austerity policies on working-class communities.
Speaking at the first Prime Minister’s Questions since the general election earlier this month, Corbyn said years of Conservative government cuts to local authority budgets had put public safety at jeopardy and had played a part in the fire that destroyed a tower block in Kensington, west London earlier this month, killing at least 79 people.
“When you cut local authority budgets by 40% we all pay a price in safety,” Corbyn said.
“Fewer inspectors, fewer building control inspectors, fewer planning inspectors. We all pay a price.
“And Mr. Speaker, those cuts to the fire service have meant that there are 11,000 fewer firefighters. The public sector pay gap is hitting recruitment and retention right across the public sector. What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effect of austerity,” the Labour leader added.
Tory MPs shouted “shame” across the chamber as Corbyn continued the criticise what he believes are the impacts of austerity politics.
Prime Minister Theresa May refused to accept Corbyn’s claim that Tory cuts to public services had played a part in the Grenfell Tower tragedy, urging MPs across the House instead to “come together” to work out how the tragedy was allowed to unfold.
The prime minister also claimed that cuts to public services begun under the leadership of former Labour PM Tony Blair and involved “governments of all colours, councils of all political persuasions”.
She added: “I hope we shall we say we will come together and get to the answers of why this has happened over many years and we can stop it happening in the future”
Watch Corbyn and May clash over Grenfell Tower:
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.