Politics

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen has whip removed as he's slammed for Covid vaccine and Holocaust comments

Related video: Andrew Bridgen called ‘village idiot’ by protester

BBC

The Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has had his party affiliation or “whip” removed following comments he made about the coronavirus vaccine and the Holocaust, it has been announced.

Simon Hart, the government’s chief whip, said Mr Bridgen had “crossed a line” which caused “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.”

So what exactly did North West Leicestershire MP have to say about the life-saving Covid vaccine?

Well, back in October during a debate on the safety of Covid vaccines, Mr Bridgen questioned the government on why “healthy children who are at minimal risk from Covid” were being vaccinated, adding that it was surely “in breach of the Hippocratic oath to ‘do no harm’”.

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In early December, he asked Rishi Sunak during Prime Minister’s Questions if he would “overturn the big pharma-funded Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) recent recommendation that those experimental vaccines be administered to children as young as six months of age”.

Mr Sunak replied: “First, I believe that Covid vaccines are safe and effective. No vaccine - Covid or otherwise - will be approved unless it meets the UK regulator’s standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

“An independent body, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, determines in which age groups the vaccine is recommended for use as part of the vaccination programme.”

He added the “ultimate decision” of course “lies with parents”.

A week later, Mr Bridgen – himself double-vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab - led an adjournment debate on the “potential harms” of the vaccine, making the case for the “complete suspension of these emergency use authorisation vaccines” and accusing institutions of “wilful blindness”.

“It is when human beings … turn a blind eye to the truth in order to feel safe, reduce anxiety, avoid conflict and protect their prestige and reputations.

“There are numerous examples of that in recent history, such as the BBC and Jimmy Savile, the Department of Health and Mid Staffs, Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein, and the medical establishment and the OxyContin scandal, which was portrayed in the mini-series Dopesick.”

We really don’t think the Covid vaccine can be compared to such appalling scandals, Andy.

However, the biggest controversy came on Wednesday morning, when he tweeted the Covid vaccine is “the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust”.

Mr Bridgen was widely criticised for the remarks, with Jaya Pathak, a regional ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust, noting it is “not the first time” the Tory MP has “used antisemitic tropes to pedal far-right conspiracy theories” about the vaccine.

“You’d think he know better having signed the Book of Commitment. In the month of [Holocaust Memorial Day], he should learn from @HolocaustUK,” she wrote.

Luke McGee, of CNN, replied: “Andrew, I am not going to call you stupid or dangerous as others have but please reconsider invoking the Holocaust when talking about this. It is deeply offensive to compare the evils of the Holocaust to most acts in modern history that fall short of a coordinated massacre.”

John Mann, the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, added: “There is no possibility that Bridgen can be allowed to stand at the next election. He cannot claim that he didn’t realise the level of offence that his remarks cause."

Meanwhile comedian and Jews Don’t Count author David Baddiel responded with “Just. F***. Off.”

In follow-up tweets, he explained: “’Shall I compare my thing that I'm obsessed with that I think is bad to The Holocaust? Perhaps on reflection, given that it is not comparable in any f***ing way, I won't’ is sadly not a thought process that happens much on here.

“I think, for the comparers, it's an abstract thing, that just symbolises ‘really bad, yeah’. For Jews, it's not: it has a visceral, detailed reality.

“For Jews like myself whose mother's extended family was murdered, the comparisons are, in the main, obscene.”

The removal of the whip is the latest headache for Mr Bridgen, after fellow MPs agreed to suspend the politician from the Commons for five days over lobbying breaches.

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