In Brief

Government criticised for approving Grenfell cladding company

News comes after Jacob Rees-Mogg apologised for comments about the disaster

The government is facing anger after it placed the builder that oversaw the catastrophic recladding of Grenfell Tower on an official list of firms recommended to build high-rise housing.

Survivors and the bereaved say that the decision to name Rydon, the lead contractor on tower’s refurbishment ahead of the fatal fire that claimed 72 lives, as one of the firms on a £30bn seven-year construction framework agreement “adds insult to injury”.

“It is totally unacceptable that Rydon, one of the companies required to answer questions for its role in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, would be put on a government list that promotes it as a reputable contractor for other high-rise towers,” said a spokesperson for Grenfell United.

The Guardian says that the company is expected to face “intense scrutiny” in the second phase of the public inquiry into the disaster, which will begin in 2020.

The government also faced criticism yesterday when Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire did not use “common sense” and leave the burning building.

Appearing on LBC, the leader of the House of Commons said the stay-put policy issued by the fire service had limited people’s chances of survival and he would have ignored it.

The 50-year-old said: “The tragedy came about because of the cladding leading to the fire racing up the building and then was compounded by the stay put policy.

“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 and it’s such a tragedy that that didn’t happen but I don’t think it’s anything to do with race or class.”

The Justice 4 Grenfell group described his comments as “appalling,” while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said they were “crass and insensitive”.

As anger mounted, Rees-Mogg told the Evening Standard: “I profoundly apologise.”

He added: “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. With hindsight and after reading the report no one would follow that advice. That’s the great tragedy.”

Last week, a report into the Grenfell Tower fire condemned the London Fire Brigade for “serious shortcomings” and systemic failures in its response to the blaze.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues for £6

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Recommended

‘Scotland’s political culture is in a dire state’
Nicola Sturgeon inquiry
Instant Opinion

‘Scotland’s political culture is in a dire state’

Can Harry and Meghan avoid the ‘revenge of the Sussex survivors’?
Prince Harry whispers to Meghan Markle
Behind the scenes

Can Harry and Meghan avoid the ‘revenge of the Sussex survivors’?

How many people need to be vaccinated against Covid to get life back to normal?
Margaret Keenan becomes the first patient in the UK to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine
In Focus

How many people need to be vaccinated against Covid to get life back to normal?

How the Netherlands anti-lockdown movement turned violent
A car burns during anti-lockdown protests in Eindhoven in January
Today’s big question

How the Netherlands anti-lockdown movement turned violent

Popular articles

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Line of Duty series six returns to BBC One in 2021
In Depth

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 March 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 March 2021

Are Harry and Meghan pushing it with their request for press privacy?
Harry and Meghan
The latest on . . .

Are Harry and Meghan pushing it with their request for press privacy?