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Jeremy Corbyn tears into 'shameful' Jacob Rees-Mogg over 'common sense' Grenfell comments

3 min read

Jeremy Corbyn has mounted a fresh attack on Jacob Rees-Mogg over his “shameful” suggestion that Grenfell Tower residents lacked "common sense".

The Cabinet minister was forced to apologise after he told LBC Radio that the 72 people who died in the blaze should have fled the burning building rather than follow firefighters’ advice to stay put.

But the Labour leader said it was policies such as raising flammable cladding on high-rise buildings and cutting the fire service’s budget that had failed to demonstrate "common sense".

Addressing a rally in Telford this morning, Mr Corbyn added to his condemnation from Tuesday, by saying: “[The Conservatives] shamefully seem to think the victims of the Grenfell fire died because they didn’t have the common sense to save themselves.

“I’ll tell you what’s common sense: Don’t put flammable cladding on people’s homes. That’s common sense.

“Don’t close fire stations and don't cut fire fighters. That’s common sense.”

Mr Rees-Mogg told the station yesterday: "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."

Addressing its presenter Nick Ferrari, he added: “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."

Following an outcry over the comments, Mr Rees-Mogg said he was “profoundly” sorry and he had meant that he would have “listened to the fire brigade’s advice to stay and wait at the time” but that “with hindsight I wouldn’t and I don’t think anyone else would”.

He was later defended by Tory backbencher Andrew Bridgen, who suggested that his colleague would have survived the Grenfell Tower tragedy because he is more "clever" than the victims, before also promptly apologising.

The North West Leicestershire MP said Mr Rees-Mogg’s comments were “uncharacteristically clumsy”, but that they should be "put into the context of Jacob". 

When asked if he was suggesting that the Commons leader was “cleverer” than the people who died in the fire, he said: "But we want very clever people running the country, and that is a by-product of what Jacob is. And that is why he is in a position of authority.

“What he is actually saying is 'I would have made a better decision than the authority figures who gave that advice'.”

He later said: “I realise that what I said was wrong and caused a great deal of distress and offence. It was not my intention to do so, and I do not want to add in any way to the pain that this tragic event has caused. I apologise unreservedly.”

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