UK's Conservatives ditch lawmaker for comparing COVID vaccines to Holocaust

One UK lawmaker was dismissed following his comparison of vaccine side effects to crimes against humanity committed during the Holocaust.

A Nazi-themed anti-vaccination placard is displayed during a demonstration this past week in Brussels against the Belgian government’s restrictions to contain the pandemic. (photo credit: JOHANNA GERON/REUTERS)
A Nazi-themed anti-vaccination placard is displayed during a demonstration this past week in Brussels against the Belgian government’s restrictions to contain the pandemic.
(photo credit: JOHANNA GERON/REUTERS)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's governing Conservative Party expelled a lawmaker from its parliamentary bloc on Wednesday for comparing COVID-19 vaccines to the Holocaust.

"Andrew Bridgen has crossed a line, causing great offense in the process," said Simon Hart, the chief whip, or head of party discipline, for the Conservatives.

"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."

Comparing vaccines to crimes against humanity

Bridgen, a longstanding critic of COVID-19 vaccines, had earlier on Wednesday tweeted a link to an article on vaccine side effects, adding the comment: "As one consultant cardiologist said to me this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust."

Speaking in parliament, Sunak later told lawmakers: "It is utterly unacceptable to make linkages and use language like that, and I'm determined that the scourge of anti-Semitism is eradicated. It has absolutely no place in our society."

 A syringe is filled with a dose of Pfizer's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a pop-up community vaccination center in Valley Stream, New York (credit: REUTERS) A syringe is filled with a dose of Pfizer's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a pop-up community vaccination center in Valley Stream, New York (credit: REUTERS)

Asked about the charge of anti-Semitism, Bridgen later apologized.

"In relation to my tweet this morning, the use of the Holocaust as a reference was insensitive, for which I apologize. I have deleted the offending tweet," he said.

"However, this must not be used to distract from valid concerns related to the vaccine. The article I tweeted presents the work of a Jewish Israeli researcher."

Sunak's party considers the fast roll-out of vaccines in 2021 to be one of its major achievements in power and says the vaccine saved countless lives during the pandemic and allowed the country to end lockdowns quickly.

Bridgen is currently suspended from parliament's lower chamber the House of Commons for five days after being found to have breached rules on paid lobbying and on declaring financial interests.