North west Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen formally joins Laurence Fox's Reclaim Party

Credit: PA

Andrew Bridgen has formally joined the Reclaim Party, saying there is a "chasm" between Parliament and the people.

The North West Leicestershire MP said in an event in Westminster: "There is a huge chasm now between our Parliament and what goes on in Westminster and the people."

He said he was joining Laurence Fox’s party "because they respect free speech as the basis for every aspect of our democracy and our society."

Mr Bridgen was stripped of the Tory party whip in January after making the vaccines comparison to the Nazi genocide in the Second World War, claiming coronavirus jabs were "the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust."

After an investigation, it was decided to expel him from the governing party last month.

In a statement released at 10am this morning (May 10), Mr Bridgen said he would "cross the floor" today and sit on the opposition benches as the Reclaim Party's first representative.

He said, "There has been much speculation following my suspension and subsequent expulsion from the Conservative Party as to my next move.

"Despite having a right to an appeal and strong grounds to pursue one, I have decided not to do so.

"This is because I have lost faith in the Conservative Party and the impartiality of its disciplinary procedures."

The MP said he "would not wish to rejoin the party" after the treatment he received over the past few years.

"I feel now that the party no longer represents the people of this great country."

Mr Bridgen has represented Northwest Leicestershire as a Tory MP since 2010, but in his statement he said he must now represent constituents from outside the party.

"This has not been an easy decision, and I am saddened that I have been left with no other choice.

"The culture in Parliament has become toxic, and the main parties have become monolithic and scared; they have abdicated duty and abandoned the public.

"I feel now that there is no other way to resolve this impasse but to create a genuine electoral alternative."

Mr Bridgen said the Conservative party no longer has an opposition, and a "vacuum" has been created for real opposition to take its place.

The MP for North West Leicestershire confirmed he will be standing for the area at the next election as a member of the Reclaim Party.

"More than anything, the Reclaim Party stands for freedom of speech," Mr Bridgen said.

"It is essential that Members of Parliament are able to voice the concerns of their constituents. And I will continue to do that.

"I will cross the floor today, Wednesday 10th May, and sit on the opposition benches as a the first Member of Parliament for the Reclaim Party.

"I say first because I have no doubt I will not be the last. This is just the beginning."

The MP said the government can contest his seat at the next General Election if they want.

"I have more confidence that I will win my seat than the vast majority of sitting Conservative MPs, so I welcome the challenge should the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Party wish to take it," he said.

Leader of the Reclaim Party, Laurence Fox, at the launch of party manifesto for the London Mayoral election. Credit: PA

What is the Reclaim Party?

Reclaim was founded in October 2020 by actor Laurence Fox, after he appeared on BBC's Question Time earlier that year.

His appearance on the show, he claims, led to the end of his acting career.

The party's main focus is on freedom of speech, which it describes as "fundamental to a free society."

It has also been very critical of "woke culture", and argues that all public bodies should have a legal obligation to protect free speech.

The party has pledged to cut taxes and "depoliticise national institutions", such as the police, the Civil Service and the National Trust.

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