Andrew Bridgen MP has been permanently expelled from the Conservative party after a tweet in which he compared Covid jabs to the Holocaust.
The now-independent MP for North West Leicestershire had the Conservative whip removed for his comments earlier this year but has now had his membership of the party cancelled.
In January, Bridgen tweeted an article about Covid vaccinations and said: “As one consultant cardiologist said to me, this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.”
At the time, Chief Whip Simon Hart, who is head of party discipline for the Conservatives, removed the whip from Bridgen pending an investigation, saying that he had “crossed a line” and caused “great offence in the process.”
“As a nation we should be very proud of what has been achieved through the vaccine programme,” Hart said.
A Conservative Party spokesperson said Bridgen had been expelled on April 12 “following the recommendation of a disciplinary panel. He has 28 days form this date to appeal.”
If he loses an appeal to stay in the party, it could mean the end of his Parliamentary career, which began in 2010. He has vowed to stand at the next general election.
In a statement, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said they were "pleased" to see Bridgen's expulsion, and that the suggestion that "Covid vaccines are the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust is not an opinion which should be countenanced in any serious political party."
“Suggesting that Covid vaccines are the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust is not an opinion which should be countenanced in any serious political party.” https://t.co/aUTLgwTSI0 pic.twitter.com/C7puI9ESPB— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) April 26, 2023
Bridgen’s January comments were roundly condemned by the Conservative Party including by PM Rishi Sunak who called them “utterly unacceptable.”
Karen Pollock CBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust: "Inappropriate comparisons to the Holocaust have no place in politics. Comparing the Covid vaccine to the Holocaust is highly irresponsible and it is right that clear action has been taken."
Bridgen, 58, insisted his remarks were “in no way antisemitic” but wished to “apologise for any offence caused.”
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
On Twitter, Bridgen said: “My expulsion from the Conservative Party under false pretences lonely confirms the toxic culture which plagues our political system. Above all else this is an issue of free speech. No elected Member of Parliament should ever be penalised for speaking on behalf of those who have no voice. The Party has been sure to make an example of me.”
Following a 2014 vote to recognise the State of Palestine, Bridgen was accused of making highly antisemitic remarks after saying the United States was “very susceptible to well-funded powerful lobbying groups and the power of the Jewish lobby.
“It falls to this country and to this House to be the good but critical friend that Israel needs,” Bridgen said.