Not much point right now posting any of the pieces we had planned today on the intricacies of Britain’s hung parliament, and the Tory leadership and the sudden enthusiasm for the Customs Union. It all seems irrelevant, watching the horrifying pictures of the fire that raged, and is still burning, in a tower block in west London.

At least twelve people are dead, with many more injured. Those that got out just in time are now homeless.

The fire broke out on the fourth floor shortly before 1am in Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road. Initial eyewitness accounts suggest that a fire caused by a fridge might have been to blame.

Whatever the cause, it seems unfathomable that a small fire was able to take hold so quickly and engulf an entire high rise building. These are the type of events in such buildings in the 1970s that necessitated inquiries and a programme of enhanced fire safety. How could it have happened again in an era when we are supposedly more conscious of health and safety rules?

Once the rescue work is completed, there are many outstanding questions that will have to be answered, about the recent refurbishment, the management of the building, fire safety and council conduct. This will turn, I suspect, in the days and weeks ahead into an impassioned argument about the state of the public realm. It is scandalous that such loss of life could happen because of a fire in a kitchen in a tower block in Britain in the 21st century.