Cladding blamed for Grenfell Tower tragedy is banned in Britain, Chancellor Philip Hammond claims


The external cladding blamed for the ferocity and speed of the Grenfell Tower blaze is banned in Britain, the Chancellor has said.

The revelation comes amid claims contractors used the cheapest aluminium coated panels as part of a £10m regeneration of the tower block last year – allegedly the only ones available that were not fire-resistant.

It is believed that fire-resistant cladding would have cost just £5,000 more.

Phillip Hammond said a criminal investigation would examine whether building regulations had been breached when the block was overhauled.

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Chancellor Philip Hammond appearing on The Andrew Marr Show (PA)

He added the public inquiry set up by the Government following the tragedy would also examine if rules had been broken.

The Chancellor told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “My understanding is the cladding in question, this flammable cladding which is banned in Europe and the US, is also banned here.

“So there are two separate questions. One, are our regulations correct, do they permit the right kind of materials and ban the wrong kind of materials? The second question is were they correctly complied with?

“That will be a subject that the inquiry will look at. It will also be a subject that the criminal investigation will be looking at.”

Meanwhile Mr Hammond refused to say how long he believes Theresa May will remain in number 10 after reports emerged on Sunday that she has 10 days to save her position.

According to the Sunday Times, dozens of MPs are set to demand a vote of no confidence by writing letters to the 1922 backbench committee.

The Chancellor, who was barely visible in the run up to the June 8 vote, also criticised the way the election campaign was run.

He said the Conservatives would have “probably done better” if they had focused on its economic record.

Mr Hammond said his role in the campaign had not been the “one I would have liked it to be”.

He said: “I’m not going to repeat to you the private conversations I had with Theresa May on Friday.

“Yes, it’s true that my role in the election campaign was not the one I would have liked it to be.

“I did a lot of travelling around the country. I met lots of very interesting people, I heard lots of interesting stories.

“I would have liked to have made much more of our economic record, which I think is an excellent one, creating 2.9 million new jobs, getting the deficit down by three quarters.”

Asked if Mrs May’s former aides Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill had kept him off the airwaves, he replied: “I’m not going to speculate about what happened inside the campaign leadership team.

“The end result is, in my judgment, we didn’t talk about the economy as much as we should have done.

“We didn’t put enough energy into dismantling Jeremy Corbyn’s economic proposals and his spending plans, which would be catastrophic for this country and we will now do that.”

Asked how long Mrs May had left in number 10, he replied: “I think what the country needs now is a period of calm while we get on with the job at hand.”

“Theresa is leading the Government and I think the Government needs to get on with its job.”

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