What is the Reclaim Party? Andrew Bridgen becomes party’s first MP
Andrew Bridgen has announced he is becoming the Reclaim Party’s first MP. The North West Leicestershire MP has been sitting as an independent after being expelled from the Conservative Party for comparing Covid vaccinations to the Holocaust.
Mr Bridgen has also launched legal action against former health secretary Matt Hancock, who condemned Mr Bridgen’s comments as antisemitic at the time.
At an event on Wednesday morning, Mr Bridgen said he had submitted a defamation claim to the High Court, saying the former health secretary’s comments were an attempt to “shut down valid concerns expressed by me”.
Earlier this year, Mr Bridgen tweeted: “We know the ‘vaccines’ are causing serious harms and now it’s becoming increasingly clear how they are doing it. No wonder so many people are ill since vaccination. As one consultant cardiologist said to me this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.”
Below is a look at Mr Bridgen’s new party and what it stands for.
What is the Reclaim Party?
Reclaim was founded in October 2020 by actor Laurence Fox after an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time earlier that year, which the actor said resulted in him being “cancelled from a 21-year acting career”.
According to its website, the party exists to challenge “woke orthodoxy” and promote “freedom of speech”, which it views as being “under grave peril”.
Reclaim has been dubbed the “Ukip for culture” and is strongly associated with the so-called culture wars.
Mr Fox, who now hosts a show on GB News, has also previously expressed scepticism about the Covid vaccine and opposed lockdowns during the pandemic.
What are Reclaim’s policies?
Reclaim’s focus is on freedom of speech, which it describes as “fundamental to a free society”, arguing no opinions should be protected and all public bodies should have a legal obligation to protect free speech.
The party’s website also suggests a scepticism of net zero policies, saying they “punish the poorest in society” and “the implications of climate change policies must be openly debated”.
Mr Fox has tweeted about a “climate hoax”.
On social media, Reclaim has been critical of all things considered “woke”, with Mr Fox referring to a “Covid scam”, attacking the concept of 15-minute cities, transgender rights and critical race theory.
The party promises to “end illegal immigration and stop the scourge of human trafficking”, reduce the size of the state, cut taxes and “depoliticise” national institutions like the police, the civil service and the National Trust.
During his campaign to be mayor of London, Mr Fox said he would honour every recipient of the Victoria Cross and George Cross with a plaque on the street they were born.
Who is backing Reclaim?
According to the Electoral Commission, Reclaim has been heavily funded by Brexit-backing businessman Jeremy Hosking, who has donated more than £2 million to the party.
As well as Mr Fox, other members of the party include Martin Daubney, a former editor of Loaded magazine and Brexit Party MEP who has appeared as a host on GB News.
How has Reclaim performed in elections?
Reclaim is yet to win an election.
Mr Fox stood for the London mayoralty in 2021 under the Reclaim banner and got 1.9% of the vote, coming sixth and losing his £10,000 deposit.
Mr Daubney contested the 2021 North Shropshire by-election that followed the resignation of Owen Paterson from Parliament but also lost his deposit after polling 375 votes, coming seventh.