Rees-Mogg says Grenfell victims lacked 'common sense'

PUBLISHED: 10:03 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:42 06 November 2019

MPs have demanded Jacob Rees-Mogg apologised after he said 'common sense' would tell you to flee a fire. Photo: LBC

MPs have demanded Jacob Rees-Mogg apologised after he said 'common sense' would tell you to flee a fire. Photo: LBC

Archant

MPs have demanded that Jacob Rees-Mogg apologise after making 'insensitive', 'appalling' comments about the 72 people killed in the Grenfell Tower fire.

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Speaking last night to LBC's Nick Ferarri, the Tory MP said the poor cladding was the cause of the fire but was not necessarily the cause of the tragedy.

The MP for North East Somerset said: "The tragedy came about because of the cladding leading to the fire racing up the building and then was compounded by the state policy,

"It seems to me that is the tragedy of it. The more one's read over the weekend about the report and about the chances of surviving. I think if you ignore what you're told and leave, you are so much safer."

He then went on to suggest the victims should have shown more 'common sense' and fled from the fire.

"And I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building. It just seems the common sense thing to do," he said.

"It is such a tragedy that didn't happen but it isn't anything to do with race or class and it's rather sad to raise these types of points over a great tragedy."

The conversation came as Rees-Mogg and Ferrari discussed the findings of the Grenfell inquiry report published last week - which noted the fire brigade's 'stay put' policy which the service believed would save lives but the inquiry found could have cost more.

The shadow housing minister, Sarah Jones MP, said: "These are appalling comments. Jacob Rees-Mogg should retract them and apologise immediately.

"Statements like this just go to show how out of touch the Tories are and are a glaring admission of their failure to act in the interest of the Grenfell victims and their families."

Speaking to the Mirror, a 62-year-old who lost five members of his family in the 2017 tragedy, said: "He has got to apologise. Who is going to challenge this man over saying this?

"The firemen were not aware of how bad this fire was and what the building was made up of, the emergency callers weren't aware, so people took instructions.

"This is the reality of it - he wasn't there."

On Tuesday morning, Rees-Mogg issued an apology for the remarks.

He said: "I profoundly apologise.

"What I meant to say is that I would have also listened to the fire brigade's advice to stay and wait at the time. However, with what we know now and with hindsight I wouldn't and I don't think anyone else would.

"What's so sad is that the advice given overrides common sense because everybody would want to leave a burning building.

"I would hate to upset the people of Grenfell if I was unclear in my comments. With hindsight and after reading the report no one would follow that advice. That's the great tragedy."

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