A Tory has been forced to apologise for defending a Tory who was forced to apologise for crass and insulting comments about the Grenfell Tower fire.
Andrew Bridgen today issued a grovelling early-morning statement after he suggested Jacob Rees-Mogg was “cleverer” than victims of the disaster that killed 72.
The North West Leicestershire candidate’s remarks last night had deepened a row that first erupted when Mr Rees-Mogg appeared on LBC radio on Monday morning.
Mr Rees-Mogg apologised and said he had mis-spoken after suggesting the “common sense” reaction would have been to ignore firefighters’ ‘Stay Put’ advice and flee the tower.
Yet for some inexplicable reason Mr Bridgen decided to dig even deeper last night by launching a bizarre defence of Mr Rees-Mogg.
Mr Bridgen suggested the Leader of the Commons would have made a “better decision than the authority figures who gave that advice.”
And he said: “We want very clever people running the country, don’t we?”
Today Mr Bridgen tweeted: “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.”
Mr Bridgen made his comments last night on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, when he said: “He is an extremely intelligent and compassionate human being and his comments regarding Grenfell were uncharacteristically clumsy but we have to put them into the context of Jacob.
“Jacob is a leader, he is an authority figure and what he has failed to realise is that in a life-threatening and stressful situation most people, most of the public, will probably 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.
“As we know with regard to Grenfell, that advice was flawed.”
It is the latest in a string of gaffes and humiliations to hit the Tory campaign ahead of Boris Johnson announcing the formal start at Downing Street today.
Tory chiefs were left on the back foot after doctoring a video of Labour ‘s Keir Starmer, while civil servants blocked a bid to hijack their skills to cost Labour policies.
And the advertising watchdog ruled £225,000 in taxpayer-funded “spin” adverts for Universal Credit breached rules 42 times after being found misleading.