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FBU warns government ‘red tape challenge’ will fuel the agenda that led to Grenfell

CHANCELLOR Sajid Javid’s “Brexit red-tape challenge” will fuel the deregulation agenda that led to the Grenfell tragedy, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned today.

Mr Javid has announced that he will use the Budget on March 11 to launch a public and business consultation to propose ways in which the British government could “improve or remove” EU laws.

He described the process of diverging from the EU’s rule book as “competition.”

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “The Grenfell Tower fire was an atrocity born of deregulation, privatisation and austerity.

“It is reckless and dangerous for the Chancellor to launch a ‘red-tape challenge’ just as the Grenfell Inquiry is shining a light on the consequences of previous deregulatory initiatives.”

Mr Wrack said that a “clear line can be drawn” from the 72 lives lost to consecutive governments’ decisions to slash red tape in housing, construction, building-safety, and fire-safety.

He said: “The Chancellor is throwing red meat to the Tory party at the expense of public safety.

“We cannot allow the toxic culture of deregulation to do more damage.”

The FBU has highlighted the history of deregulation leading to Grenfell in a pamphlet, including how the Thatcher government cut building regulations from over 300 pages to just 25 — followed by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government cutting the fire budget by around 28 per cent in real terms.

The online material also details how warnings from previous fires, which raised the risks seen at Grenfell, were ignored, including the Harrow Court fire in 2005, the Lakanal House fire in 2009 and the Shirley Towers Fire in 2010.

The union’s warning comes amid the ongoing Grenfell Inquiry, which has faced numerous recent controversies.

Yesterday, the inquiry sought a government pledge to prevent any evidence given in person during the hearings by staff involved in the tower block's refurbishment from being used against them in criminal proceedings.

Many witnesses had threatened to stay silent by claiming the legal right of privilege against self-incrimination, which could affect a full body of evidence from being heard.

If granted, the undertaking would not provide total immunity from prosecution or cover statements or documents submitted to the inquiry.

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