Andrew Bridgen Has Tory Whip Removed After Tweet Comparing Covid Vaccine To Holocaust
Andrew Bridgen pictured in June 2022 (Alamy)
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has had the whip removed after he posted a tweet that compared the Covid vaccine roll out to the Holocaust.
Chief Whip Simon Hart said that the MP for North West Leicestershire had caused “great offence” with his comments and that there would be a formal investigation.
Hart said in a statement this morning: "Andrew Bridgen has crossed a line, causing great offence in the process. As a nation we should be very proud of what has been achieved through the vaccine programme. Misinformation about the vaccine causes harm and costs lives. I am therefore removing the Whip from Andrew Bridgen with immediate effect, pending a formal investigation."
In a series of tweets this morning, Bridgen said that the vaccines are "causing serious harms" and it is "the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust".
The MP is currently serving a five day suspension from the Commons, having been found to have breached rules on paid lobbying and declaring interests.
The motion was approved on Monday, when MPs returned from their Christmas break.
The comments today provoked outrage from MPs across the House of Commons, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who addressed the issue at PMQs on Wednesday.
"I completely condemn those types of comments that we saw this morning in the strongest possible terms," he said.
"Obviously, it is utterly unacceptable to make linkages and use language like that and I'm determined that the scourge of anti-semitism is eradicated. It has absolutely no place in our society."
He said that the previous few years had been "challenging" for the Jewish community and would "never want them to experience anything like that ever again".
Simon Clarke, a former cabinet minister was early to call out the comments, tweeting "this is disgraceful".
Conservative MP for Lichfield Michael Fabricant called Bridgen's tweets "wholly irresponsible".
He tweeted: "If this deters people from being vaccinated and causes deaths as a direct consequence, he’ll have blood on his hands. His tweets are wholly irresponsible."
Labour's Margaret Hodge welcomed the move to remove the whip from Bridgen, saying it would send a "clear message to anyone who thinks the Holocaust and vaccines are comparable.
"Just stop and think," she added.
Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper also believed the decision for the whip to be suspended was "good".
She tweeed: "Wild conspiracy theories and incredibly offensive comparisons to the Holocaust have no place in British society, let alone parliament.
"And dangerous misinformation should not be spouted by a Member of Parliament."
Following the posts, the Conservative Party had said that “The vaccine is the best defence that we have against COVID. Misinformation about the vaccine causes harm and costs lives.”
Ahead of the suspension of the whip, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said that they would be writing to Tory party chair Nadhim Zahawi to "express our deep concern and to ask for clarification as to what action will be taken".
They said: "For an MP to suggest that Covid vaccines are the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust is unconscionable."
Later, former vaccines minister Zahawi tweeted that he was "appalled" by the comments.
"Any comparison made to the holocaust is completely inappropriate, belittling one of the greatest horrors ever committed by humanity," he added.
The cheif executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, also called the comments "highly irresponible and wholly inappropriate".
There are now 15 MPs sitting as indpendents, following a string of whip suspensions in recent months.
They outnumber Lib Dems on the green benches, with 14 MPs from Ed Davey's party currently in Parliament.
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