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Britain

‘Yo, Theresa May where’s the money for Grenfell?’: British artist Stormzy calls out PM on live TV for deadly blaze

Eight months after the fire that killed 71, the government continues to face criticism that it failed the victims and their families

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 February, 2018, 7:59am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 February, 2018, 7:59am

The fire burned for hours, ripping through a 24-storey block of flats in one of London’s richest boroughs.

Video footage showed desperate residents banging on windows and begging for help. Children disappeared behind clouds of smoke, never to be seen again. Inside Grenfell Tower, residents were presented with few options: Stay, flee, or jump. At least 71 people died that night last June. Many believe the death toll to be much higher.

Eight months later, the British government continues to face criticism that it failed the victims and their families – both before the deadly blaze and since.

Performing live on stage at the 2018 Brit Awards, the Britain’s biggest music awards show, south London musician Stormzy openly criticised Prime Minister Theresa May.

May had pledged US$6 million to help victims’ families. But many blame her ruling Conservative Party for years of cuts that they say contributed to the disaster.

“Yo, Theresa May where’s the money for Grenfell?” He demanded as the crowd erupted into cheers.

“What – you thought we forgot about Grenfell? You’re criminals, you’ve got the cheek to call us savages, you should do some jail time, you should pay some damages. We should burn your house down and see if you can manage this,” he continued in an unwavering freestyle that gripped viewers.

The performance, which was televised to millions, prompted fierce reaction. Within seconds, Twitter was alight with praise for the 24-year-old musician.

“Stormzy brought religion, politics, and road to the # BRITs Backed it for Grenfell, gave a shout out to Daniel Kaluuya & Jourdan Dunn, sang in the rain, and didn’t get muted once. He’s a legit national treasure.” Tweeted Elizabeth Pears.

“Stormzy just sang ‘Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell? You think we forgot about Grenfell?’ live on stage at the #BRITs. He is this country’s biggest asset, musically and politically,” read another tweet.

“Congratulations @Stormzy1 for winning your first #BRIT award, and what a powerful performance. #Grenfell” Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted.

Downing Street insisted Thursday morning that May is “absolutely committed” to supporting people affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Stormzy took home two awards on Wednesday, one for British male solo artist and another for album of the year. His album, Gang Signs and Prayer, was the first grime album to reach number one in the United Kingdom. Grime emerged in the early 2000s and is a powerful movement that fuses hip hop, jungle and garage with sharp lyrics portraying the darker side of London life.

It has taken years for the once underground grime scene to start reaching mainstream. Digital music service Spotify recently announced grime as an official music category.