UK Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg has been denounced for his “vile” and “insensitive” comments after suggesting victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire lacked “common sense.”
Speaking to LBC radio on Monday to discuss the findings of the Grenfell inquiry report published last week, the posh Etonian made reference to the fire brigade’s ‘stay put’ policy, claiming that “if you just ignore what you’re told and leave, you are so much safer.”
Those comments alone may have raised a few eyebrows, but Rees-Mogg ploughed on to give a somewhat damning assessment of Grenfell residents’ decision-making during the fire in June 2017, which saw 72 people killed.
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.
Rees-Mogg’s comments have sparked widespread outrage. Ahmed Chellat, 62, who lost five members of his family in the tragedy, insisted that the Conservative politician needed to be challenged on his views.
Chellat told the Mirror: “What common sense is he talking about? People died on the stairs trying to leave, they couldn’t breathe… how is he coming to this insensitive conclusion?”
Many on social media have branded the MP for North East Somerset’s comments as “vile,” with one person tweeting: “What an absolute ghoul.” Another suggested that such remarks summed up the Tory government’s “lack of compassion” for anyone who “isn’t one of their elitist chums.”
This just sums up the lack of compassion that this Government has for anybody who isn’t one of their elitist chums. It’s horrible to see.
— Ben Young (@BJY81) November 5, 2019
The context of a general election campaign has not gone unnoticed, with Kevin Schofield, editor of Politics Home, suggesting that such a gaffe “loses elections.” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also took to Twitter to denounce the “crass and insensitive comments.”
On Tuesday morning, Rees-Mogg insisted that he “profoundly apologizes” for upsetting survivors and the families of the victims, but claimed in “hindsight” he or anyone else would not have taken the London fire service’s advice to ‘stay put’ in the building.
The first part of the Grenfell fire inquiry was published on Wednesday. It’s headed by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who has concluded that, once it was apparent that the fire was out of control, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) should have revoked its ‘stay put’ policy, saying this could have saved lives.
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