MP Andrew Bridgen expelled from Conservative Party over Covid vaccine and lobbying rule breaches
The Conservative Party has expelled MP Andrew Bridgen after he compared Covid-19 vaccines to the Holocaust and was found to have breached lobbying rules.
The member for North West Leicestershire had already lost the party whip, meaning he was sitting as an independent.
But the Tories have now stripped him of his party membership as well.
Mr Bridgen has spent months voicing concerns about the safety of Covid vaccines.
In December he called in Parliament for a “complete suspension” of the vaccines based on what he described as, “robust data of significant harms and little ongoing benefit”.
According to the government, this went against the overwhelming weight of evidence, from a number of different independent teams of researchers, that found the benefits far outweighed any known harms.
He lost the whip in January after posting a tweet describing the Covid vaccine roll-out as “the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust“.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the comments as “utterly unacceptable”.
Earlier that month, he was handed a five-day suspension for breaking the MPs’ code of conduct banning lobbying.
The cross-party Commons Standards Committee found Mr Bridgen had breached rules by failing to declare his financial interests in Mere Plantations when writing to ministers about the company.
The Cheshire-based firm had donated money to Mr Bridgen’s local party and funded a trip to Ghana.
Following an investigation, the committee concluded the MP had shown a “careless and cavalier” attitude to the rules.
Mr Bridgen said his expulsion “confirms the culture of corruption, collusion and cover-ups”.
In a now-deleted tweet posted in January, Bridgen shared a link to a vaccine-related article on the far-right blog ZeroHedge and said: “As one consultant cardiologist said to me this is the biggest crime against humanity since the holocaust.” Chief Whip Simon Hart promptly removed the Tory whip.
The MP has been increasingly critical of the COVID-19 vaccine in recent months, although fact-checking organisations have repeatedly pulled up his claims. However, many people have been pulled by fact checkers and the pedantic points they rely on are not always as strong as you would expect.
After his expulsion, Bridgen tweeted Wednesday that the decision “confirms the toxic culture which plagues our political system.”
“Above all else, this is an issue of freedom of speech. No elected member of parliament should ever be penalised for speaking on behalf of those who have no voice,” he added.
My expulsion from the Conservative Party under false pretences only confirms the toxic culture which plagues our political system.— Andrew Bridgen (@ABridgen) April 26, 2023
Above all else this is an issue of freedom of speech. No elected Member of Parliament should ever be penalised for speaking on behalf of those who… https://t.co/bJOOyy6wia
At this point, it is unclear how Andrew Bridgen’s consistency feels, however, the support on social media seems overwhelming.
Since losing the Tory whip, Bridgen has made links to the Reclaim Party led by the actor Laurence Fox, which has also challenged the establishment’s ‘Trust the science’ mantra and other issues surrounding the Covid vaccines.
Bridgen’s register of interests as an MP shows Reclaim gave him £6,000 for “legal consultancy” and has also covered the costs for “meetings, lunches, dinners and counselling”.
It is not known if Bridgen plans to sit in the Commons as an MP for the Reclaim Party, which took 1.9% of the vote when Fox stood to be London mayor in 2021.
A Conservative Party spokesman said Mr Bridgen was expelled “following the recommendation of a disciplinary panel”.
He has 28 days, from the date of his expulsion on 12 April, to appeal.