A former Tory whip has criticised the decision to suspend Andrew Bridgen after he appeared to compare the Covid-19 vaccine rollout to the Holocaust.
Adam Holloway said stripping the whip from the North West Leicestershire MP was part of a “frighteningly totalitarian, woke way of looking at the world”.
The Gravesham MP, who served as a government whip for three months during the overlap between Boris Johnson and Liz Truss’ administrations, said he did not agree with Mr Bridgen’s views on the coronavirus vaccine.
But Mr Holloway hit out at what he said amounted to a loss of freedom of speech by removing the Tory whip from him.
Mr Bridgen caused public uproar and was widely condemned by Cabinet ministers, opposition MPs, scientists and Jewish groups after questioning the safety of vaccines and appearing to draw the Nazi genocide comparison.
He tweeted on Wednesday: “As one consultant cardiologist said to me, this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.”
Chief Whip Simon Hart withdrew the Tory whip and Rishi Sunak condemned the comments at Prime Minster’s Questions, calling them “utterly unacceptable”.
Mr Bridgen has proved unrepentant, however, releasing a video on Thursday vowing to “continue to ask” questions about the safety of the jabs.
Mr Holloway, speaking to GB News, said Mr Bridgen should be “allowed” to speak his views about vaccines, even if they were “completely wrong”.
He told fellow Tory MPs and presenters Esther McVey and Philip Davies: “Why can’t people have different views, even if they’re crazy views and they’re completely wrong?
“For Andrew Bridgen to lose the whip is another example of the Tory party going down this, to me, frighteningly totalitarian woke way of looking at the world.”
Asked if Mr Bridgen’s comments were crass, Mr Holloway said: “In this world of self-censorship, you’re probably wise never to mention the Holocaust.
“But in fact he rang me about an hour ago and he said he was actually quoting a cardiologist from I think the University of Jerusalem.”
Mr Holloway added: “To suggest that your viewers or the public in general need to be somehow protected from views like those held by Andrew Bridgen on the vaccines is quite wrong.
“We want to do diversity and inclusion, well, let’s actually hear what people have to say, and let the public form their own judgment.
“Don’t be so sort of almost fascist and tell people what they can and can’t say.”
A spokesman for Mr Hart said he would not be commenting on Mr Holloway’s remarks.
She said the statement issued on Wednesday suspending Mr Bridgen “still stands”.
In his statement, Mr Hart had said Mr Bridgen “crossed a line” when appearing to compare the Holocaust to the vaccine rollout.
He also accused him of spreading misinformation that could “cause harm and cost lives”, announcing that a formal investigation would be taking place.
In a video published on YouTube on Thursday, Mr Bridgen said his suspension “says much about the current state of our democracy, the right to free speech and the apparent suspension of the scientific method of analysis of medicines being administered to billions of people”.
He 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.
He is current sitting as an independent MP following the decision to suspend the Tory whip.