Tory MP forced to apologise over ‘from the grave’ jibe about Paddy Ashdown
A Tory backbencher has been forced to apologise after blurting out a jibe relating to the late Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown while an MP paid tribute to him.
Andrew Bridgen interrupted Layla Moran’s Commons question about the late peer’s concerns on Brexit before he died, prompting cries of “vile” and “shame on you” from opposition members.
“In his final weeks he was very concerned by the way Brexit would play into Britain’s place in the world,” Ms Moran said, before Mr Bridgen intervened with “from the grave”.
In a point of order following Prime Minister’s Questions, the Liberal Democrat called for the arch-Brexiteer to apologise for the outburst.
“I find such a comment disgraceful and I would like to ask guidance from you Mr Speaker on how for example he might want to retract such a statement and also if this is becoming of the sort of conduct we should expect from members of this House,” she said.
Speaker John Bercow said the comment “was most unfortunate”, at a time when Ms Moran was “paying tribute to an extremely distinguished former member of this House”.
“What was said should not have been said,” he added.
Mr Bridgen immediately intervened, saying: “I will apologise for my remarks if any offence was caused to any members of the House”.
Lord Ashdown, who led the Liberal Democrats from its formation in 1988 until the late 1990s, passed away days before Christmas, when the Commons had broken up for recess.
Theresa May paid tribute to his time as an MP, as a Royal Marine and as high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina in her opening remarks.
“He served his country with passion and distinction and he will be sorely missed,” she said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “[Lord Ashdown] was elected to parliament at the same time as me in 1983.
“He was a very assiduous constituency MP, he was a very effective Member of Parliament and he and I spent a lot of evenings voting against what the Thatcher Tory government was doing at that time.”