The British prime minister, already reeling from a humiliating election that cost her Conservative Party the majority in Parliament, has been shockingly inept in responding to the high-rise fire in London that has left at least 30 people dead.
She reportedly met with emergency crews during a Thursday visit to Grenfell Tower, but not survivors. She also blocked media access during the visit—for “security reasons,” according to her defense minister. On Friday morning, May was holed up in St. Clement’s Church as a crowd gathered outside demanding that she answer questions about the fire. Under tight police escort, May managed to leave the church. The BBC is now reporting that she will meet with survivors tomorrow.
May’s mishandling of this matter has political roots: She is probably (and rightly) concerned that an enraged public will blame her government for poor safety at the high rise. As Heather Brooke wrote in The New York Times earlier this week, “These are turbulent times in Britain, and the fire at Grenfell Tower touches on many of the issues that are riling people. Over the past decade, a series of events have demolished the trust citizens once had in officialdom: the financial crash of 2008, the scandal of parliamentary expenses and the chaos in government following the Brexit referendum.”
May, having lost her majority in Parliament, is already in a precarious position. By responding to this crisis so tactlessly, she could very well lose her job.