Next PM must be on right side of history with Grenfell, say campaigners

Grenfell Tower in west London Credit: David Mirzoeff/PA

Grenfell Tower campaigners have urged the next prime minister to be “on the right side of history” ahead of the two-year anniversary of the fire.

Whoever takes over from Theresa May – who stood down as Tory leader last Friday – must prioritise the tragedy, Karim Mussilhy, whose uncle died in the fire, said.

Hesham Rahman was one of the 71 people to die when the west London high-rise caught fire on June 14 2017, while another resident died months later.

Friday will mark two years since the blaze, and survivors and the bereaved will gather by the tower to remember their loved ones.

Mr Mussilhy, vice chair of the campaign group Grenfell United, said it was important to keep up the momentum because “there are many other Grenfell Towers out there”.

The 33-year-old father of two told the Press Association: “We don’t know who it’s going to be and, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter, because the pressure will continuously be applied by us, and hopefully we can have a similar if not better relationship with the next person.”

Whoever the new prime minister will be, he warned: “Don’t forget about Grenfell. Be on the right side of history.

“You have an opportunity to make changes that will echo throughout generations, to know that 72 people lost their lives in the most horrific way possible, but because of the work you did with Grenfell United, it now meant that people are safe in their homes and are treated with respect and something like this will never happen again.”

Credit: PA Graphics

Mr Mussilhy said it was important to keep Grenfell in the public eye because “the issues are national – we need to make sure no more lives are lost and our loved ones did not die in vain”.

He said it was hard to stay positive sometimes, but the community is “very resilient, motivated and determined, and we will make sure our voices are continued to be listened to”.

Grenfell United is campaigning for a social housing regulator that will ensure tenants are listened to when they raise concerns, and for all dangerous materials including cladding to be banned and removed from homes.

Mr Mussilhy continued: “It’s quite insulting at times to see any time Grenfell is spoken about in Parliament there’s no more than 6-7 MPs in the room.

“And it goes to show the mentality that people have towards this, it just feels like people are waiting for this just to die down and eventually go away, but it’s not.

“Trust me, we are not going to go away, we are not going to quiet down, if anything we are going to get louder and louder, we are going to keep doing what we are doing, and we are going to keep using different strategies and techniques to make sure that you see that we are still here and we are campaigning, we want change, people need to be safe, this never has to happen again, people that were responsible for this are held to account. “

Kensington and Chelsea Council also called on the future PM to honour promises or “risk losing what little trust there is”.

Council leader Elizabeth Campbell said: “The Government has made many commitments to the families from the tower, the community around the tower, and to people right across London – so no matter who the next PM is, they need to honour those commitments or risk losing what very little trust there is.