JACOB REES-MOGG has issued a “profound” apology after appearing to suggest those who died in the Grenfell Tower tragedy lacked “common sense”.
Speaking on Nick Ferrari’s LBC radio show, the Conservative MP said the victims of the London fire would have survived if they had ignored the advice, they were given by the London Fire Brigade.
Rees-Mogg told Ferrari he would have evacuated the building as it “just seems the common-sense thing to do”.
His remarks followed the publication of a report from Sir Martin Moore-Bick which found “many more” lives would have been saved if the London Fire Brigade (LFB) protocol, which recommended people “stay put” during fires of these kind, had been abandoned.
The report concluded that 55 of the 72 people who died in the blaze were told to stay in their flats while flames engulfed the building.
The LFB’s plans and preparations for an incident of this kind were deemed “gravely inadequate” in the newly-published document.
In an interview on LBC, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg claims that had he been in Grenfell tower he would have been able to survive by ignoring the fire brigade's advice... pic.twitter.com/JQclpdEpT1
— Novara Media (@novaramedia) November 5, 2019
Commenting on the findings of the report, Rees-Mogg said: “The more one’s read over the weekend about the report and about the chances of people surviving, if you just ignore what you’re told and leave you are so much safer.
"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. And it is such a tragedy that that didn’t happen.”
The remarks attracted widespread criticism.
Former Tory MP turned Lib Dem Sam Gyimah said: “Insensitive and disgraceful for Jacob Rees-Mogg to suggest the victims of the Grenfell tragedy lacked ‘common sense’.
“Our duty as public servants is for the truth to be laid bare, for justice to be done, and to ensure this never happens again.”
“Jacob Rees-Mogg should apologise for these deeply offensive, insensitive and totally ill-informed comments immediately,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan added.
What possesses someone to react to an entirely avoidable tragedy like Grenfell by saying the victims lacked common sense? People were terrified, many died trying to escape. Jacob Rees Mogg must apologise for these crass and insensitive comments immediately.https://t.co/QczW5iyxkR
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 5, 2019
“It is shocking for Jacob Rees Mogg to suggest that those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire lacked ‘common sense’,” John Healey MP said.
“They were told to stay where they were by the fire service, who were acting on national guidelines. He must apologise.”
“How dare you insult and denigrate those who died in Grenfell Tower ,” David Lammy said.
“The victims of this crime of gross negligence followed the instructions they were given by the fire authorities. Do not blame them. Your arrogance and condescension is monstrous.”
Just so unbelievably unempathetic of Jacob Rees-Mogg to talk about "what he would have done" if he had been in Grenfell. All it does - apart from implicitly criticising the victims - is bring home that he, of course, has never the fuck had to live anywhere like it in his life.
— David Baddiel (@Baddiel) November 5, 2019
Rees-Mogg has now issued an apology, explaining: “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.”
I said this at an arts gathering last night...and I've been saying this for months: the systematic diminution of the #AfricanCaribbean voice in public discourse -and everywhere else -is the #BigStory.
You need look no further then this:#JacobReesMogg https://t.co/bJ8AWRz2xW
— Bonnie Greer (@Bonn1eGreer) November 5, 2019
Yvette Williams, who chairs the campaign group Justice4Grenfell, was among those to brand the comments “appalling” adding:
“Rees-Mogg has a privileged background, what is his experience of living in social housing? How many tower blocks has he lived in?
“To suggest that those who followed “his” party’s instructions were not using “common sense” is an absolute insult.”
Rees-Mogg is now facing calls to resign over the matter.
The pro-Brexit MP previously attracted the ire of Ireland after claiming the Irish government will be the “main culprit” in the event of a no deal Brexit.
Rees-Mogg sparked widespread anger on the Emerald Isle after hitting out at what he perceived as the “phantom” Irish border issue.