Remembering when Boris Johnson said health and safety measures were for 'extremely stupid people'

Remembering when Boris Johnson said health and safety measures were for 'extremely stupid people'

Boris Johnson is coming under fire for an article he wrote back in 2009 attacking health and safety campaigners.

Following the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower which has left 58 people presumed dead, the article has resurfaced and it has not aged well.

In the piece written for The Telegraph, Johnson describes health and safety campaigners as ‘The Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid.’

Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, arrives in Downing Street for a cabinet meeting, in central LondonPicture: REUTERS/Phil Noble

He describes the moment he and his daughter were walking on a cliff and came across a sign that said ‘cliff edge’:

As a statement of the plonkingly obvious, it could have been bettered only if there had been another sign with a vertical arrow saying 'Sky'.

We laughed so much we almost fell off.

He goes on to mock a number of health and safety precautions, many of which were brought in after the King’s Cross Fire in 1987 which resulted in the death of 31 people.

He said:

Typically, there will have been an accident, and local campaigners will get together with families of the victims to demand a solution.

In these circumstances, it is very difficult for local politicians to resist. 

However, he explains that this is in fact ‘counter-productive’ although ‘a plausible case can be made for each intervention.’

Taken in the present day context of the Grenfell Tower fire his words could appear flippant.

In the aftermath of the tragedy it has been suggested that better adherence to health and safety measures could have prevented the fire from spreading so quickly.

Jeremy Corbyn, in a damning letter he wrote to Theresa May criticising her response to the Grenfell Tower fire, has demanded that residents are involved in any public enquiry that takes place.

He wrote:

[The inquiry] must be empowered to consider all the steps that were, or were not, taken leading up to and contributing to this most terrible incident.

It must also identify the urgent steps that need to be taken in relation to fire safety standards for other buildings of this nature.

Many Conservatives have been criticised for previous decisions to peel back ‘red tape’ and cut back on health and safety measures.

Mr Johnson accused Labour of politicising the Grenfell Tower fire yesterday.

He said in a status on Facebook:

There has sadly been some political game playing about the terrible fire in London. I find it unbelievable that Labour are suggesting that this tragedy was somehow caused by fire service cuts.

The fire brigade was there astonishingly quickly and performed with great bravery.

As for the record, fires in London went down 50 per cent in my mayoralty. Fire deaths down year after year.London has fastest appliance response times in the country.

Sadiq Khan conducted his own review of the London fire safety plan. If he felt that the provision in Kensington was deficient he had ample budget to change it.

Any attack on emergency services performance is outrageous politicking by Labour.

A source for the Mayor of London told the Telegraph:

Sadiq has not said that fire cuts were a factor in the tragedy.

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