JACOB Rees-Mogg today “profoundly apologised” for saying the victims of the Grenfell tower blaze “lacked common sense”.
The Tory MP said if he was in a building blaze, he would leave “whatever the fire brigade said”.
For almost two hours, residents were told to “stay put” in the building as the fire continued to spread –killing more than 70 people inside the West London building block in June 2017.
And the politician offered an apology this morning after being widely slammed by the families of victims and fellow MPs.
He said: “What I meant to say is that I would have also listened to the fire brigades advice to stay and wait at the time. However, with what we know now and with hindsight I wouldnt and I dont think anyone else would.
“Whats 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. Thats the great tragedy.”
He had earlier toldLBC host Nick Ferrari: “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.”
A recent inquiry found residents had been told to “stay put” inside the tower block for longer than they should have, rather than telling them to escape.
Yvette Williams, chair of the campaign group Justice4Grenfell, said the politician’s comments were “appalling”.
She told The Mirror: “This is an appalling statement to make but unsurprisingly symptomatic of Rees Mogg’s ilk.
“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.”
Mr Rees-Mogg’s comments have caused outrage in the Commons with Labour MPs calling them shocking and appalling.
Jeremy Corbyn said: 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.
David Lammy, who had a friend who died in the tragic blaze, said: How dare you insult and denigrate those who died in Grenfell Tower Jacob Rees-Mogg?
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.
Lib Dem MP 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.
John Healey, for Wentworth and Dearne, said: It is shocking for Jacob Rees Mogg to suggest that those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire lacked common sense.
They were told to stay where they were by the fire service, who were acting on national guidelines. He must apologise.
It comes after a two year inquiry slammed the London Fire Brigade’s handling of the tragedy.
It found that few people may have died if key decisions had been made earlier, saying “systemic failures” had been made by the LFB.
Sir Martin Moore-Bick criticised the LFB for its “stay put” strategy when residents were told to stay in their flats by 999 operators and firefighters for nearly two hours.
The fire broke out just before 1am and the strategy was abandoned at 2.47am.
Sir Martin said: “That decision could and should have been made between 1.30am and 1.50am and would be likely to have resulted in fewer fatalities.
“The best part of an hour was lost before Assistant Commissioner Roe revoked the ‘stay put’ advice.”
However, Martin Blunden, the head of Scotland’s fire service, said it was “impossible to say” whether more lives could have been saved.
In a series of Tweets, he said: “To say that more lives could have been saved is impossible to say at this stage and it is disappointing to read such a conclusion.
“I do not believe blaming LFB’s commissioner or any staff is fair or correct.
“I understand the desire of those mourning to apportion blame and find out why.”
WRAPPED IN FLAMMABLE CLADDING
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, has also questioned the inquiry process.
He said no one was trying to avoid scrutiny, but suggested the ordering of the inquiry was “completely back to front” and did not focus on the issues of the building’s construction.
He added: “The truth is that the fire spread the way it did because it was wrapped in flammable cladding.
“The firefighters turned up after that had happened, after the building had already been turned, in reality, into a death trap.”
Since the report’s release, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton expressed her “deepest sorrow” at not being able to save everyone from the fire.
She said: “We have made, and will continue to review and make changes to our policies, our training and our equipment.
“We are lobbying for major building regulation change and urgent research into buildings that fail on fire safety, which leaves the national stay put strategy no longer viable. We will never give up until all of the changes we are calling for to protect residents have been made.
“We have and will continue to fully assist the Grenfell Tower Inquiry to understand what happened in order to learn and prevent such a tragedy ever happening again.”
The Grenfell Tower inferno is believed to have started on the fourth floor, before it quickly spread to the whole building