22/06/2017 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Emily Maitlis and Evan Davis.

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Tonight, as the government tackles the use of Grenfell Tower-style


cladding in other local authority housing, Newsnight reveals that


a leading hotel chain is questioning the cladding on three


We'll get reaction from Parliament, the Fire Brigades Union,


Probably not Theresa May's favourite assignment, meeting other EU leaders


in her somewhat wee juiced circumstances. She put on a brave


face. Other Europeans have adopted a perplexed tone. I think, I don't


know what the British want. I am in Brussels and we'll be asking if the


Europeans are, for the moment, being polite but unhelpful.


And what was it like in Aleppo during the last days of the siege?


We follow local journalists as they leave their hometown.


The government confirmed this evening


that the number of high rise blocks of flats found to have combustible


cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower has risen


to 11, across eight local authorities.


But tonight, concerns about safety are extending


beyond the housing sector, into a leading hotel chain.


Premier Inn has told Newsnight that it is "extremely concerned"


about the cladding on three of its high rise hotels.


After an urgent review the company has advised this programme


that the developers responsible for the construction


of hotels in Maidenhead, Brentford and Tottenham had


installed cladding that Premier Inn says does not appear to comply


The Grenfell Tower still casts its shadow over Britain. Today the


government revealed that the external cladding on 600 buildings


is now being investigated. The house should be careful on speculation of


what caused the fire but as a precaution the government have


arranged to test cladding in all 11 tower blocks. Shortly before I came


to the chamber I was informed that a number of these tests have come back


as compost the ball. The relevant local authorities and services have


been informed and they are taking all possible steps to insure that


buildings are safe and to inform affected residents. Cladding was a


key issue at Grenfell, the building's outer skin was an


aluminium composite material which is quite common, bound around a core


of something. The best cladding has a minimal call which is completely


non-combustible but at Grenfell it was polyethylene, a plastic, which


may have let the fire spread so the government is looking at those at


600 buildings to see how many may have cladding width too combustible


A call. A new worrying element emerged today. A Camden tower block


contained a major fire back in 2012. Canned and believe this is because


they have a safer kind of cladding -- Camden. But they have revealed


that they were not supplied with the cladding they thought they had


bought for some of their buildings. We thought we were dealing with


reputable companies, we feel let down and the tenants feel let down.


My priority is to make sure that the tenants feel safe which is why we're


putting in place 24-7 fire wardens and to take down the extra panels.


Five towers are having cladding stripped off them. We know we have


13 of the taller buildings across Camden and these one the Leeds ones


in particular were clad as the same company as riding, who did the work


in Kensington, so it was top of our list, to look at the workmanship and


projects that we used and make sure we 100% sure that our residents are


safe -- as Rydon. I am in Maidenhead, Theresa May's


constituency and the building behind me is her local Premier Inn. It is


covered in cladding, specifically an aluminium composite material. If it


were being used as social housing it will have had to send a sample of


the cladding to the government for testing to ensure it was one of the


safe and not the unsafe forms of aluminium cladding but because it is


used as a hotel there is no such obligation. So we checked and this


hotel is one of three Premier Inns which the company says do not appear


to meet the required standards. They say that the developers were


responsible for the construction of the buildings.


Premier Inn also said that an independent expert has assured them


that those three hotels are safe to continue operating given their


evacuation plans and robust safety measures. Working out whether things


are compliant is surprisingly complex because people can


commission tests to prove that things work in certain scenarios,


so-called desktop studies. It is open to wiggle room in that the


criteria given for which tests should be used in the desktop study


are not laid down and it does not say who is qualified or is not


qualified to do such a study. A tougher building rule book is surely


already on the cards. A simple one may be wise as well.


You have singled out Premier Inn. Is it fair to do that? Not really at


all, to be honest. We had a list of buildings which we believed have


issues potentially with their cladding and we went to Premier Inn


and they were very honest and straightforward and replied


immediately after they had checked. It's important to stress that it is


not Premier Inn we should be worrying about. Furthermore it is


important to stress that the cladding they used is a fire


retardant cladding. It isn't of the sort that automatically meets all of


the codes but it isn't bad, not the stuff we think was used at Grenfell.


Furthermore, they have multiple escape routes in the hotels, alarms


in every room. There's no reason to be particularly worried about them.


It's unfortunate that we singled them out because they were so honest


with us when we went to them. It tells you that a lot of people don't


know what is at the heart of their cladding. No, absolutely. Nick, in


terms of the political ramifications, does it feel like the


government is on top of the scale of the problem? It has been a difficult


week for Theresa May because of what she described today as the


unimaginable scale of the tragedy, the woeful response on the ground


for which she apologised and her misjudgement in failing, on her


first visit, to meet the residents and their families, failure to win


their confidence and make a connection in the way that Jeremy


Corbyn did. Today was her first chance in Parliament to update MPs


properly since the election. She sends two significant signals.


First, she hears the concerns of the residents who say that this tragedy


highlights a really big point about our society, that people living in


the heart of London, living completely different and


fundamentally different lives to people in Westminster, that she


understands the concern. The second big signal she wanted to send, that


the government has a grip but there was an unfortunate moment this


morning when Number ten, as Chris reported, said that 600 high-rise


buildings have similar cladding to Grenfell Tower and it turns out it


was expanded tower blocks that had cladding. Downing Street at the


moment, not quite functioning properly. Yes, a bit of confusion.


We did invite the government onto the programme tonight


Instead, I'm joined by the Conservative


MP Sir David Amess, chair of the all-Party Parliamentary


Also with me is Matt Wrack, the general secretary


of the Fire Brigades Union, and Pilgrim Tucker from


the Grenfell Action Group which represented residents


I wanted to pick up on the back of Chris's piece, first with you,


David. This is not to retract from what we are learning about social


housing, which must be the priority but this discovery suggests there


could be a much wider problem with building regulation as a whole,


doesn't it? Absolutely and I'm shocked by what I've heard. The


committee is going to look at it very quickly. It's so frustrating


that we've been asking for the building regulations to be reviewed


every year and nothing at all has happened until now. I wanted to say,


before I came from my office in Westminster, Sajid Javid the


Communities Secretary sent all MPs a letter setting out in detail what he


is asking local authorities and housing associations to do. I am


reassured that the government has got a grip on the situation that


should haven't -- that shouldn't have happened. There is some


confusion about a desktop study, the criteria. We just don't know what


the law is, do we? We don't, but MPs, ministers are experts in these


matters -- they aren't experts, they depend on advice and the idea that


cladding should contain any element that is combustible is crazy. I


don't think people will understand that because it seems that we have


done via research, even, not just the scale of the problem was so


shocking but the fact that it happened at all in 2017, are we not


on top of fire regulation in the way that we thought we were? Clearly


not, from what has happened and what is unfolding across the country. You


mentioned research, one fact is that in terms of government commissioned


fire research, there is virtually no government commissioned fire


research in the UK. A team used to exist in the Department for


Communities and Local Government, but they have gone after the cuts.


If local authorities... The debate about cladding had been going on for


a long time, we submitted evidence to Parliament in 1999 about it. If


the Fire Services or local authorities identified this and


said, let's commissioned research, there is no want to go to because


every time you raise the issue, and David found this from a different


angle, you run into obstacles, you are placing obstacles in the way of


development, red tape and so on and that is the endless mantra. We come


from different angles but anyone who has raised issues about fire safety


will run into that brick wall. That's the irony. We talked on that


first night after the fire and the people who knew and had real worries


were those who had voices that were not being heard. Not being heard,


no. Is your sense that that is now changing? I don't believe that is


changing, I heard that Theresa May said she understood about inequality


and I don't think she can do. If she did she would rapidly start


reversing some of the Conservative legislation that has been enacted


since 2010. I'm really appalled, I'm still getting over hearing that


Rydon misled the council in terms of the cladding it was putting on the


building. That is shocking. Isn't that the problem that many of these


companies have contractors and subcontractors. Premier Inn were


very honest and tried to provide clarity but they don't know what is


on their building. Premier Inn owned the Hotel chain, it is not the


contractor putting it on. Rydon is the contractor, so they should know


what materials it is using. Local government should have the capacity


to scrutinise and oversee what contracts it is going into but it


doesn't and that's a consequence of these government cuts since 2010.


That's really the root cause of the killing of all of these people. Do


you think that the government should ask all of these departments...?


What happens in terms of who has to go to the government, to have their


cladding or materials fire checked? There our research stations that


perform tests on the materials, performing them in particular


circumstances and if you are a manufacturer you're going to make


sure that when your material is tested, you send the best fitters to


fit it in the way that you want it to be fitted, there will be a


technical sheet going out to the construction firm who fit it but the


question is, who is monitoring it as it is put on? That is, if it


complies with the regulations anyway. In this particular case, for


us there are questions about the design in which the cladding is


applied to the building because there seems to have been some


decorative boxing on each corner of the building. You're talking about


Grenfell? An Grenfell Tower, there are a host of questions and clearly,


people haven't got to grips with this. This is, I think it goes


longer, I think it has got worse since 2010 but the whole regime is


about deregulation, and anyone who raises safety concerns runs into


this brick wall. It is welcome to hear a bit of a U-turn today on some


of this but why it has taken a week to have this material tested, I


think people will be shocked. And when, as a Tory MP, UCB blame being


laid at the door of Conservative policies, do you refute any of that


or do you say that we have to look at the cuts and the way we have


regulated and our culture of prioritise intercutting of red tape


or whatever? With all of those things I accept


they must look at but I don't want to get into the party politics


really because 2008 there was an economic crash, 2009 the disaster


and that is when we should have taken action. In spite of the


resources local authorities have got already, this is not very good, it


does not reflect at all, local authorities should still be able to


do checks and there is something not right about this. Whether it is the


contractors or new products available, I am very pleased we are


going to have this enquiry when I think the truth will come out. There


will be residents, we now know 11 more towers, this is a very delicate


situation for the government and those people as well, what would


you, if they were calling you up now or see you as a voice for Grenfell


residents, what would you say, it's not just to do with the cladding


because there will be other precautions like sprinklers in place


would you say leave the tower and your home and now? Contact somebody


like Matt but you would want to start getting something like the


cladding taken down. That would be a sensible thing to do. I think so. It


was not cladding which caused the issues in 2009, it was what other


alterations? If we just focus on cladding we will miss out on other


operations which have affected fire safety within the building. There


may be a whole, a thorough audit of every single high-rise building and


London Fire Brigade today has altered the attendance of Fire


Services at calls to those premises, that should happen across the UK


immediately. Thank you all. We should mention that the contractor


in that discussion involved in the cladding of Grenfell Tower and in


Camden but they are not connected to Premier Inn just to clarify.


That's it from me for now - but now let's go over


Hello, from the Justus Lipsius building here in Brussels -


behind me the good folks of the media, excitedly


working on their stories from the European Council


It's the first time Theresa May has met all her counterparts


And to think, that was just two weeks ago.


Back then, she - we - thought she'd be here with a strong


personal mandate and voter backing for her version of Brexit.


Had that outcome pertained, Britain would certainly have had


a leader with unassailable authority to negotiate and sign


But now she finds herself a minority leader, coping


with crisis and anger at home, with a parliament unkeen


on her version of Brexit, and a nation utterly divided


So, it wasn't her strutting in with a big mandate,


but Emmanuel Macron of France, the new hero of the


Tonight, Mrs May told the others her proposals


for EU citizens in the UK, post Brexit; one step


Our diplomatic editor Mark Urban is with me.


Just about this offer which broke tonight, on UK citizens and their


rights, EU citizens and their rights? Theresa May hoping to regain


the initiative with this offer. Broadly, 3 million EU citizens in


the UK at the moment can all remain, through a five-year naturalisation


process they can in fact have all the same rights as all other UK


citizens whether that is education or medically speaking, whatever. The


second point is you could still arrive and start that five-year


clock, it gave a cut-off date somewhere between the Article 50


declaration and the end of this process in 2019. We are already some


months into that and it's going to negotiation, it could still be


possible to arrive and start that five-year process. And a


streamlining of the process for naturalisation, some people have


complained about that, 85 pages, the UK Government will look again and


make it simpler. That is the package in effect. We are not getting a lot


of reaction to that because they do not want to get into negotiation


about that. It's not going to happen. No. The fascinating thing


about this summit is how awkward it always. You have 28 arriving, then


one has to leave at a certain point. We already knew that was happening,


add a couple of previous meetings but it's so awkward. Now these


concrete proposals are being made, the EU standing on its formal


position of seeing no, it's done through Michel Barnier and David


Davis, that is when the conversation will resume next week. They will not


give her any sort of proper reaction to her proposed packages. A whole


second level of awkwardness because of the outcome of the UK general


election where people see her weekend, they see things happening


like Philip Hammond the chance for this morning opening up all sorts of


possibilities, talking about three or four year transitional period.


Maybe past the date of a UK election before we know what the trading


terms will be and under what terms would be carry on during those three


or four years added onto the Article 52-mac years? That has led people


here to be more vocal and open things up to debate.


It's never been easy, getting the 28 to move


Now 27 are learning that there is something even harder.


Managing the departure of a nation from this place


Theresa May arrived, post-election a wounded antelope


to use a phrase coined by a Tory colleague - but hoping


We will be setting out how we propose to ensure that EU


citizens living in the UK have their rights protected


Hearing the different views emerging from within Theresa May's cabinet,


many of the European leaders arriving here are discarding


the usual protocol of not commenting on another states affairs


and giving their own version of what they think


I think if there is a continued link to the the internal market


and the customs union, in one form or another,


including accepting that it also means the court in Luxembourg,


if we could come to something like that, I am hopeful.


And reminding everyone of the wider interest,


TRANSLATION: For me, the future of the EU 27 takes


precedence over negotiating the UK's exit from the EU.


That spread of attitudes, from let's make Brexit


as soft as possible, to will you just get on with it,


runs through Europe's geographic and ideological axis.


But they have been able to rally around their early priorities


for negotiations and at the top of those, the rights of EU


I believe it is outrageous the way the government treats people


I mean, EU nationals, residing in the UK, and I am saying


this because all these people, they don't know if they will


still have the right to continue their life and work


They need clarity, predictability and I would add


In an attempt to answer that anger and move on the talks,


Theresa May arrived bearing an offer on EU citizens relating to UK


But given the strength of European views, they won't yield much,


particularly in the transitional phase of Brexit,


You want a lot of things that are impossible without accepting


the European Court of Justice jurisdiction, the whole transition


period which is practically the extension of what we call...


Here in Brussels, which is simply the European union law,


This is all under the supervision of the European Court of Justice


and if you want to maintain the certain rights for the citizens


and you want to have a transition period also that would allow


you to continue maybe also with some other rights,


then we cannot accept that there is no European Court of


Justice because the European Court of Justice is the only court


that we accept having the right to interpret European law.


There are plenty in Brussels who've become more pessimistic post UK


election about finding a way through Brexit.


But speaking for the 27 governments, the council president tried


The European Union was built on dreams that seemed


You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.


Having made her citizens rights pitch tonight to the 27,


Theresa May trudged out of the summit leaving the others


Their response will come via negotiator Michel Barnier,


a measure of the EU's determination to stick to its own


Mark Urban out and about in Brussels today.


A phrase that has been habitualy adopted by politicians in the last


few months in answer to any question at all, is "I've been


Theresa May used it a lot, and you have to say,


she was clear about Brexit in her Lancaster House


Earlier today I spoke to Antonio Tajani, he's the Italian


serving as President of the European Parliament.


He's not a Brexit negotiator as such, however he is a player


in all of this, as the parliament has to approve any deal.


I asked him if the negotiation had changed given the UK election


results. We will have the separation


between London and Brussels. And we need to achieve


agreement on the framework And then we need to start


for an agreement for the day after. I think after the British elections,


the situation for hard Brexit, For this, now it is


important to be pragmatic. As I said from the beginning,


it's important now to work also for paving the way


for the day after. And we start that now, we need


to start thinking about that. Exactly, the negotiations


are starting. We need to work for the future also


because the UK will leave the European Union but not Europe


and we need to cooperate in the future against terrorism,


against illegal immigration. Also on the defence sector


because the UK is a member of Nato. Trade as well, and you're


happy to start those talks fairly quickly now,


not waiting until But to start thinking about the


future relationship pretty quickly. No, we need before to decide


the framework of the separation. Second step, after the agreement


on the framework it's possible to start for an agreement


for the future. In my opinion it's possible


to achieve the goal But the separation,


end of next year? That means we don't start talking


about the future relationship No, no, no, for us it's important


before to decide the separation. After the separation


it's possible to speak, Do you feel Britain


knows what it wants now? Obviously we had an election


that was indecisive in some ways. I think, I don't know


what the British want. Probably they are against


the Brussels bureaucracy. A lot of problems, a lot of rules,


the power, the European Commission, a lot of people working,


civil servants, imposing rules. But I don't know if the British


are not very well... The situation, the day after,


without internal market. A lot of people are talking


about transitional arrangements. I mean, how long do


you think transitional No, no, no, the European Parliament


proposal is short-term, Do you feel you know what Britain's


negotiating position is on Single Market,


on customs union? It's not our job, it's not our job,


is the British job, the UK wants It's not the European Union against


the UK, if they want to leave. The implementation Article


50, what they want? They want to leave


the European Union, they want a model as a Norway,


a Switzerland or they want I don't know, after the election,


the referendum, really, For me, it's important


to achieve agreement. The problem in a way


at the moment is we don't Staying in the EU, impossible


because there is no consensus. We don't have a consensus


on any one model... Nobody knows, it's


possible to change. But there is no consensus on any


model outside the EU. Could you offer us a thing


that is outside the EU but allows us The problem is, what Mrs May, what


the UK Government want to do, they want to leave Europe and nothing


more or they want to have closer cooperation in the next year, an


example is the cooperation between Europe and Norway. It's a good


example. But nobody knows. Before the elections,


the May position was very strong. Now, I think in the UK,


the situation is more flexible, in my point of view


but during the negotiation it is I think we don't have a final


position in the UK. If the UK wants to achieve another


agreement, it's possible to do it but we need to ask


the European Union. We want to stay in agreement


as a Switzerland or a Norway. In my opinion it's possible too


but it's possible to decide on this For this I think it's important


to know the real position of the UK. At times when I talked to him he


sounded like someone who was trying to scare Britain but Brexit is


scary. Let's find out what my guests think.


Tom Nuttall is the Charlemagne columnist for The Economist.


And Verena Schmitt-Roschmann is the Brussels bureau chief


Look, it seems like today, lots of people have been saying, you can


change your mind. Do they think we might change our mind? There may be


some hope that the Brits might come to their senses because there isn't


a clear notion about what Brexit means. The general line in the EU,


think about it again. But we aren't necessarily expecting you to. Tom,


it seems to have got more complex since the election because the


original Theresa May Brexit had a certain sympathy to it. Do they


think so as well? Yes, they were rather dismayed by the election


because previously we knew that Britain wanted to leave the Single


Market and Customs union and we were on course for what is known as a


hard Brexit but now the process is shrouded in uncertainty. Will there


be another election, will they still be negotiating with Theresa May and


David Davis in six months' time, will be British policy remain the


same? What they hoped would be a stable and orderly and discreet


process looks rather uncertain. Does it feel that Britain is using up


goodwill, it is burning through its credit of goodwill? I don't think


so. The EU side have settled on the notion that we want to get on with


it, get it over with. I think that's the main feeling, to start and Mac


orderly process and you know, checked off different things. Do you


think you can divide the 27? They have been quite united, they can't


talk about anything without Michel Barnier's say so. They seem pretty


unified and I wouldn't personally waste my time on it! There may be


some kind of cracks but I think the main interest is to really get on


with it. The EU has an interest in leaving the story behind and getting


on. Where does this goal, do you think? It feels like it will be


rather difficult to have a different kind of Brexit and yet it feels like


we haven't quite settled on one. It's very hard to say, it's all


about what happens in British politics now. We had the negotiation


formally beginning this week when David Davis turned up in Brussels


and sat down with Michel Barnier and spoke about money, citizens issues


and Ireland and those issues will get into the nitty-gritty now we


have this offer from the British government of citizens rights. As


far as the European side is concerned they will proceed on the


basis of what they hear from Britain but what they hear from Britain is


there is another election, if Theresa May is overthrown, who knows


what could happen, it could change and then we get into a complicated


situation because the EU has created a negotiating stance on the basis of


what it has heard from Britain so far. We'd better leave it there Mac.


Thank you for joining us. If anybody was tired of Brexit because of the


complexion news from Brussels, the next 18 months may be a


disappointment. Back to you in London.


It's been six months since the world's gaze


For four brutal years, the people of the Syrian city endured


unimaginable horrors as the bitter war between Assad's army


and rebel forces played out, pounding the once elegant city


The siege eventually ended in December when Syrian forces,


Our colleagues at BBC Arabic commissioned four


citizen journalists, opposed to Assad, to document


Under siege, trapped with 200,000 others,


with limited food, water and medicine, they filmed with small


cameras and mobile phones as the battle for the city raged.


That was part of a BBC Arabic production for


You can see the full film, Goodbye, Aleppo, this weekend


That's all we have time for - goodnight.


Good evening. No doubt about it, the heatwave is over and we aren't


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