General Election 2019 briefing: Second apology for Grenfell comments | More Tory moderates stand down

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Welcome to The Scotsman’s daily election briefing as Britain prepares to go to the polls on December 12. Here’s all you need to know for the day ahead.

Tory MP apologises over defence of Jacob Rees-Mogg's Grenfell comments

A second senior Conservative MP has had to apologise after insensitive comments about the Grenfell Tower fire, following outrage over Jacob Rees-Mogg's assertion that he would have ignored Fire Service advice to remain in the building.
Mr Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House of Commons, said that ignoring the 'stay put' advice would be the 'common sense thing to do', sparking an outcry from rival parties and survivors' groups.

Andrew Bridgen, sitting Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, defended Mr Rees-Mogg on BBC Radio 4's PM programme, appearing to suggest that the North East Somerset MP would have survived the blaze because he is one of the 'very clever people running the country'.

READ MORE: Opinion: How Scots can put Corbyn in Downing Street

On Twitter, Mr Bridgen 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."

Boris Johnson. Picture: PA

Boris Johnson. Picture: PA

More MPs depart the scene

Philip Hammond became the latest former Conservative MP to announce that he was standing down from parliament ahead of next month's election.

The former Chancellor decided to quit after losing the party whip when he rebelled against Boris Johnson over Brexit, meaning he couldn't stand as a Tory candidate in the Runnymede and Weybridge.

Meanwhile, moderate Tory MP Ken Clarke, another former Chancellor who lost the party whip over his own Brexit rebellion, said he had no regrets as he prepares to leave parliament after 49 years.

He told PA: “I had this mad idea I wanted to be an MP, became an MP quite young, loved it from the first moment and just immersed myself in it, I greatly enjoy it.

“I am still a political addict - I enjoy it as much as I did in the first year I was here.”

Sturgeon has 'no fear over Brexit backlash'

A defiant Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that she has no fears over a backlash from Brexit supporters over her party's apologetically pro-Remain stance heading in to the General Election.

It is not known which percentage of SNP supporters backed Brexit, but estimations between 10 and 25% have been suggested since the vote of 2016.

She said: "I don't worry. In politics, you have to decide what side of issues you're on - big defining issues.

"You only have to look at Labour to see what happens to parties who try to straddle the fence and aren't frank with people."

Boris compares Corbyn to Stalin

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the ultra-loyal Daily Telegraph newspaper a sneak preview of the Conservatives' campaign launch today by comparing Jeremy Corbyn's approach to that of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Mr Johnson - who was until earlier this year paid £275,000 a year to write a weekly column for the newspaper - said Mr Corbyn had taken a stance that targets billionaires with a "relish and a vindictiveness" not seen since Stalin's attitude to wealth-creators following the Russian revolution.

The Labour leader has said that he doesn't believe billionaires should exist in a compassionate society.