Tory MP Andrew Bridgen apologises ‘unreservedly’ for defending Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Grenfell comments

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen listens as Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran raises a point of order about his conduct during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has apologised for his defence of Jacob Rees-Mogg (PA)

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has apologised for defending Jacob Rees-Mogg’s controversial comments about the Grenfell Tower victims.

Mr Bridgen came under fire after he said the Commons leader would have made a "better decision" than the authority figures who were giving the victims advice on the night of the tragedy.

However, Mr Bridgen has now used Twitter to say sorry following a huge backlash.

He wrote: “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.”

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg leaves 10 Downing Street, London, Monday Oct. 21, 2019. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to push for a vote on his European Union divorce deal as Parliament prepares for a week of guerrilla warfare over Brexit. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)
Jacob Rees-Mogg said on Monday that Grenfell victims should have used 'common sense' (AP)

Mr Rees-Mogg told LBC on Monday that Grenfell victims should have used "common sense" and ignored fire service guidance to remain in the burning tower block.

Speaking to Radio 4 on Tuesday, Mr Bridgen said: "Jacob is a good friend of mine and he is an extremely intelligent and compassionate human being and his comments regarding Grenfell were uncharacteristically clumsy.

"But I think we have to put them into the context of Jacob."

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When presenter Evan Davis asked Mr Bridgen if he believed Mr Rees-Mogg had meant to say “he would not have stayed put”, Mr Bridgen said: "That's what he meant to say.”

Mr Davis said: "That is exactly what people object to, which is, he is in effect saying, 'I wouldn't have died because I would be cleverer than the people who took the fire brigade's advice.’"

Mr Bridgen said: "But we want very clever people running the country, don't we, Evan? That is a by-product of what Jacob is, and that's why he is in a position of authority.

The Grenfell Tower in west London on the day the first report from the public inquiry into the fire which claimed 72 lives is published. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Grenfell Tower fire claimed 72 lives (Getty)

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

Mr Bridgen’s apology follows Mr Rees-Mogg’s own apology for his comments.

Mr Rees-Mogg said: "I profoundly apologise. 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.”

Reacting to Mr Rees-Mogg's apology, the Fire Brigades Union said Grenfell residents had been in a "terrifying, impossible" situation, and added: "It was... callously irresponsible for a senior government figure to suggest that the public should ignore firefighters when they are in a fire."

Andrew Gwynne, Labour's national campaign co-ordinator, said Mr Bridgen's comments were "contemptible" and that he should be removed as a parliamentary candidate.

Labour MP David Lammy said in a tweet that Mr Bridgen's comments were “unforgivable” and demanded his resignation.

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