Andrew Bridgen says ‘clever’ Jacob Rees-Mogg would have escaped Grenfell Tower fire

Tory Brexiteer MP Andrew Bridgen. Photograph: Channel 4 News.

Tory Brexiteer MP Andrew Bridgen. Photograph: Channel 4 News. - Credit: Archant

Andrew Bridgen has waded into the row over Jacob Rees-Mogg's comments on the Grenfell Tower fire by suggesting the minister would not have got caught up in the blaze which killed 72 people because he's 'clever'.

The Grenfell Tower. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA.

The Grenfell Tower. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Tory Brexiteer appeared on BBC Radio 4's PM programme to defend Jacob Rees-Mogg's remarks, claiming they were "uncharacteristically clumsy", before making matters worse.

He explained the minister's comments needed context. He said: "Jacob is a leader, he is an authority figure, and what he's failed to realise is that in a life-threatening and stressful situation, most of the public would probably defer to the advice of an authority figure whether be that someone from the fire service or the police, and not come to their own conclusions. And as we know with regard to Grenfell, that advice was flawed."

Pressed by presenter Evan Davis, he asked: "Do you think he meant to say he would not have stayed put?"

"That's what he meant to say, that's what he meant to say," insisted the Brexiteer.

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"That is exactly what people objected to," continued the presenter. "Which he is in effect saying 'I wouldn't have died because I would have been cleverer than the people who took the fire brigade's advice'."

After a long pause, Bridgen finally responded: "But we want very clever people running the country don't we, Evan? That's a by-product of what Jacob is, and that's why he's in a position of authority."

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"What he's actually saying is he would have made a better decision than the authority figures who gave that advice.

MORE: Grenfell survivor 'infuriated' by Jacob Rees-Mogg's comments

"But I can assure you there's no malice... he's one of the most compassionate and thoughtful politicians we've got."

His comments were quickly condemned by the show's listeners on social media.

Jenni Russell tweeted: "Wow, the MP Andrew Bridgen just making Rees Mogg Grenfell remarks worse; defends him by saying he's a very clever authority figure who would not personally have accepted the advice to stay in a building on fire. Says Grenfell residents not authority, leadership figures. Appalling."

David Lammy MP wrote: "Gross superiority. Unforgivable."

"Day one of the election, I just get the impression that it's all downhill for the Tories," said Paul O'Connor.

Mitch Benn quipped: "In fairness EVERYONE probably seems clever to Andrew Bridgen".

MORE: 'You need to resign': Stormzy calls Rees-Mogg 'scumbag' for Grenfell comments

Labour meanwhile called for Andrew Bridgen to be removed as a Tory candidate.

Andrew Gwynne MP said: "Andrew Bridgen's comments are contemptible and Boris Johnson should remove him as a candidate. What Rees-Mogg and Bridgen said go to the poisonous heart of the Tories' attitude towards people in our communities."

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