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  1. ITV Report

Conservative Andrew Bridgen apologises for defending Jacob Rees-Mogg's Grenfell 'common sense' remarks

Jacob Rees-Mogg (left) and Andrew Bridgen (right) have apologised for their comments on Grenfell. Credit: PA

High-profile Conservative Andrew Bridgen has apologised for causing "a great deal of distress and offence" in his defence of Jacob Rees-Mogg's condemned comments on the Grenfell tragedy.

Mr Rees-Mogg is facing calls to resign after saying in a radio interview victims in the 2017 London tower fire should have used "common sense" and ignored the fire service's stay-put policy.

Mr Bridgen went on BBC Radio 4's PM show to defend Mr Rees-Mogg, saying the comments were "uncharacteristically clumsy".

He said: "Jacob is a leader. He's an authority figure and what he has failed to realise is that in a life-threatening and stressful situation most people will defer to the advice of an authority figure, be that someone from the fire authority or the police, and not come to their own conclusions.

"And as we know, in regards to Grenfell that advice was flawed."

When asked by Evan Davis if Mr Rees-Mogg was saying he wouldn't have died because he was "cleverer" than the people who took the fire brigade's advice, Mr Brigden replied: "But we want very clever people running the country, don't we Evan?"

"And that is a bi-product of what Jacob is. And that is why he is in a position of authority.

"What he is actually saying is, he would have made a better decision than the authority figures who gave that advice."

Following his remarks, Mr Bridgen tweeted on Wednesday morning: "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."

On Tuesday, Mr Rees-Mogg issued an apology for his comments, which he made in an interview on LBC.

A statement from Grenfell United. Credit: ITV News

"I profoundly apologise," he 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."

The remarks from the high-profile Conservative parliamentary candidates have drawn criticism from Grenfell activist groups.

A statement from 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 insult to bereaved families."

Grime rapper Stormzy was highly critical of Mr Rees-Mogg and said he should resign over the comments.

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On Twitter the music star said "these politicians are actual aliens" for the way Grenfell residents have been spoken about.

In a flurry of tweets Stormzy called Mr Rees-Mogg a "scumbag".

Boris Johnson's spokesman said following Mr Rees-Mogg's "full apology" that the prime minister has "full confidence" in his Commons leader.

Following his apology Conservative colleagues came to his defence, with MP Nigel Evans claiming Mr Rees-Mogg "is an absolute asset to the Conservative Party".

Jeremy Corbyn criticsed Mr Rees-Mogg for his comments. Credit: PA

He added: "I think that as leader of the House he's done a tremendous job."

Tory MP Bill Cash denied that Mr Rees-Mogg's comments made their party seem "nasty".

He said: "I'm afraid that that's one way of some people putting it but it's not the case and it's certainly isn't the case that we are in anyway a nasty party."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised Mr Rees-Mogg's comment, saying: "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.”