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Jacob Rees-Mogg apologises for suggesting Grenfell fire victims lacked 'common sense'

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Jacob Rees-Mogg apologises for suggesting Grenfell fire victims lacked 'common sense'
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Jacob Rees-Mogg has apologised after suggesting the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire lacked "common sense" for following fire brigade advice to stay put during the blaze.

Speaking on LBC Radio on Monday, the UK's leader of the House of Commons said: "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 like the common sense thing to do. And it is such a tragedy that that didn't happen."

A total of 72 people died in the blaze, which engulfed the 23-storey social housing block in west London in 2017.

An inquiry report released last week said the flammable cladding covering the building at the time was to blame for the rapid spread of the flames, but it also criticised the fire brigade for relying on its "stay put" policy — which relied on containing the fire within apartments or floors — rather than evacuating the residents.

Reuters

But the recent comments from Rees-Mogg, whose Conservative Party hopes to secure its mandate in an election next month, have since been widely condemned as "monstrous" and "crass".

"What possesses someone to react to an entirely avoidable tragedy like Grenfell by saying the victims lacked common sense?" the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said.

"People were terrified, many died trying to escape. Jacob Rees Mogg must apologise for these crass and insensitive comments immediately."

Grenfell United, an organisation supporting the survivors and families from the tower, said the comments were "beyond disrespectful."

It added: "It is extremely painful and insulting to bereaved families."

Labour MP David Lammy wrote on Twitter: "How dare you insult and denigrate those who died in Grenfell Tower. 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."

English comedian David Baddiel added: "Just so unbelievably pathetic 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 f*** had to live anywhere like it in his life."

In a later statement, Rees-Mogg said he wanted to apologise "profoundly" for his comments.

He added: "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."

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