A disgraced MP who was stripped of the Conservative whip for comparing the use of Covid vaccines to the Holocaust is free to raise “dangerous” anti-vax conspiracy theories in Parliament, the Commons Speaker has said.
It came after Mr Bridgen once again used a Commons adjournment debate to make a series of claims about Covid vaccines, including that boosters are “state-sponsored self harm on a national level”.
The claims were thoroughly debunked by Health Minister Will Quince, who said vaccines have “saved tens of thousands of lives, reduced the pressure on the NHS and were instrumental in allowing our economy and society to reopen”.
It is the second time Mr Bridgen has used a Commons adjournment debate, which are allocated by a ballot, to spread misinformation about vaccines.
But a spokeswoman for the Commons Speaker said Sir Lindsay had “no plans” to stop him.
“Andrew Bridgen is an elected Member of Parliament and has a right to express his views whether others agree with them or not,” she said.
“Adjournment debates are selected by random ballot and preventing Members from debating certain topics would breach the neutrality of the chair.
“As such Mr Speaker has no plans to control which topics are debated in the House of Commons, nor would the House wish him to do so.”
A spokeswoman for Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said Mr Bridgen using parliamentary time in this way was a “matter for the House”.
But Shadow Commons Leader Thangam Debonnaire said Mr Bridgen had fallen below the standards required of MPs.
“The spreading of dangerous misinformation should be beneath that of a Member of Parliament,” she said.
“Being an MP comes with serious responsibilities, including to uphold the integrity of the House of Commons. We are required to act objectively and on the best available evidence. Andrew Bridgen has once again fallen far short of this.
“His constituents of North West Leicestershire deserve better from their elected representative.”
Responding to Mr Bridgen’s claims, Mr Quince said vaccines were “the best line of defence” against Covid and had allowed the UK to “live with the virus”.
“Countless studies” have shown vaccinated people are “less likely to die or become seriously ill from the virus”, he said, pointing out that 144m vaccine doses have been administered in England alone, with 17m in last autumn’s booster campaign.
All jabs “have been through a rigorous approval process” run by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) according to “some of the highest safety standards in the world”.
mRNA vaccines such as the Pfizer and Moderna jabs, which Mr Bridgen attacked, have also eben approve by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Mr Quince said, adding that there were “extensive checks and balances” required by law for vaccines at every stage of development.
Meanwhile, the data shows that Covid boosters are “highly effective at reducing hospitalisation and death”, with a fatality rate “consistently lower” for people with a third or booster dose compared with the unvaccinated, or those with first or second dose.
Mr Quince also said “Yellow Card” self-reporting of adverse impacts of vaccination are not always proven side effects.
“In summary we know that the Covid vaccination programme has saved tens of thousands of lives and has prevented many more from being hospitalised.”