Corbyn: Put tower homeless in empty luxury flats


Jeremy Corbyn has called for empty luxury properties in Kensington to be requisitioned to house victims of the Grenfell inferno.

The Labour leader claimed the tragedy had exposed a “tale of two cities”, with some of the wealthiest homes in the country located alongside the poorest.

He spent about 40 minutes on Thursday consoling victims at St Clements Church, which is being used as a refuge for those who have lost their homes.

His visit provided a sharp contrast with Theresa May, who made a private visit to the site to meet the emergency services, but failed to speak to any of those affected by the disaster.

Mrs May has called for a public inquiry into the blaze and made funding available to the local authority to pay for rehousing of the victims under a so-called Bellwin scheme, used previously for flooding.

But Mr Corbyn went far further, telling MPs yesterday: “Kensington is a tale of two cities – it is among the wealthiest parts of this country but the ward where this took place is one of the poorest… Residents must also be re-housed, using requisition of empty properties if necessary, in the community they love.”

He added in a Parliamentary debate: “It cannot be acceptable that in London you have luxury buildings and flats kept as land banking for the future while the homeless and poor look for somewhere to live.”

Mr Corbyn’s plan was criticised by Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who told the Daily Mail: “It is unsurprising, following their self-delusion that they won the election that Mr Corbyn and his allies are lurching even further to the left.

“Suggesting requisitioning empty properties when empty student accommodation is available locally is completely in line with his Marxist belief that all private property should belong to the state.”

Despite questions about its legality, the plan was backed on social media by former acting Labour leader Harriet Harman, who wrote: “Loads of empty flats in Kensington. Jeremy Corbyn right that government should requisition to house Grenfell survivors.”

There are an estimated 20,000 empty homes in London – about 1,300 of them in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea – according to a recent analysis of figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government by the firm Property Partner.

Government sources rejected criticism of Mrs May’s visit, pointing out that she had wanted to make sure the emergency services had everything they needed, and had called a public inquiry as soon as she returned to Downing Street.

But Labour MP John Mann compared her conduct to that of George W Bush, who attracted opprobrium when he viewed the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from the air in 2005.