Andrew Bridgen stripped of Tory whip over Covid vaccine comments

Andrew Bridgen has had the Conservative Party whip removed after having “crossed a line” in his criticism of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The North West Leicestershire MP has been increasingly vocal in remarks questioning the coronavirus vaccine.

On Wednesday he tweeted an article on vaccines, adding: “As one consultant cardiologist said to me, this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.”

Chief whip Simon Hart said: “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. The vaccine is the best defence against Covid that we have.

“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.”

Tory MP Michael Fabricant welcomed the decision, adding that his former colleague will have “blood on his hands” if his comments stop people public getting vaccinated.

“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.”

Earlier, former Cabinet minister Simon Clarke had condemned Mr Bridgen’s tweet referring to the Holocaust, calling it “disgraceful”.

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Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, called the comments “highly irresponsible and wholly inappropriate”.

Mr Bridgen is currently suspended from the Commons after he was found to have displayed a “very cavalier” attitude to the rules in a series of lobbying breaches.

MPs agreed at the start of the week to suspend Mr Bridgen for five sitting days from Tuesday.

Labour MP Christian Wakeford, formerly a Conservative, had also hit out at the North West Leicestershire MP over his comments.

Reacting to the removal of the whip, he said: “About time but it should have gone well before this.”

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Lord Mann, the Government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, said Mr Bridgen should be barred from standing for the Tories at the next election.

“There is no possibility that Bridgen can be allowed to stand at the next election,” he said.

“He cannot claim that he didn’t realise the level of offence that his remarks cause.”

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Tory peer Lord Pickles, the UK special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, said throughout the pandemic “we saw various anti-vac groups compare themselves to victims of the Nazis; it was distasteful then and remains so”.

“The act of murdering millions of innocent people does not lend itself to modern comparisons, it trivialises and distorts the Holocaust,” he said.

“People in authority have a duty to use language responsible; Mr Bridgen has failed that test, and I welcome the removal of the Conservative whip from him.”

Sir Peter Bottomley, on Times Radio, said that anyone who is speaking about vaccines should “learn their facts”.

“Anyone who brings the Holocaust in is actually trespassing on dangerous ground,” the Tory MP said.

“My advice to him is, consider what you’re saying. And don’t say it.”

Mr Bridgen has been contacted for comment.