Grenfell Tower: Jacob Rees-Mogg criticised for ‘insulting’ comments


Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg

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Jacob Rees-Mogg made the comments on LBC’s Nick Ferrari show

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been criticised for saying it would have been “common sense” to flee the Grenfell Tower fire, ignoring fire brigade advice.

The Leader of the House of Commons was appearing on a radio phone-in on the findings of a Grenfell inquiry report when he made the comments.

The Grenfell United group called the MP’s comments “insulting”. Mr Rees-Mogg said he “profoundly apologised”.

Seventy-two people died in a fire at the tower block on 14 June 2017.

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Seventy-two people died in the fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017

Speaking on LBC’s Nick Ferrari Show on Monday, Mr 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.”

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The blaze reached the top of Grenfell Tower within an hour of the first 999 call

On Tuesday, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “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. I would hate to upset the people of Grenfell if I was unclear in my comments.”

In a statement, survivors’ group Grenfell United said: “The Leader of the House of Commons suggesting that the 72 people who lost their lives at Grenfell lacked common sense is beyond disrespectful.

“It is extremely painful and insulting to bereaved families.”

Former Grenfell resident Joe Delaney told the BBC: “Jacob Rees-Mogg talking about common sense is a bit like my dog talking about wifi. It’s surprising he even understands the concept.”

‘Stay put’

Grenfell inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said fewer people would have died if the London Fire Brigade (LFB) had taken certain actions earlier.

Sir Martin criticised the LFB for following a “stay put” strategy, where firefighters and 999 operators told residents to stay in their flats for nearly two hours after the blaze broke out.

The advice is designed to prevent hundreds of people descending stairs while firefighters are coming up during a contained fire.

As flames spread around Grenfell’s external cladding, the advice may have prevented some families escaping, the report found.

LFB Commissioner Dany Cotton told the London Assembly on Tuesday that the brigade would respond differently to a Grenfell-like fire in the future.

She told the fire resilience and emergency planning committee: “Knowing what we know now about Grenfell Tower and similar buildings with ACM cladding, our response would be very different.”


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