Andrew Bridgen’s defection differs 2023

Andrew Bridgen joined the Reclaim party weeks after being permanently booted from the Conservative party for a Holocaust-related tweet criticizing covid vaccinations.

Bridgen becomes the first Reclaim MP and the latest MP to “cross the floor.” Bridgen said a Wednesday morning press conference, “This is just the beginning.”

At the party’s press conference, leader and actor-turned-anti-vax campaigner Laurence Fox celebrated “Britain’s national story” and its “renewal” at King Charles III’s coronation. Fox slammed fellow actor Adjoa Andoh for calling the royal family’s balcony appearance “terribly white.”

Bridgen’s debut was Reclaim’s biggest moment since its 2020 founding.

Culture war clichés abounded. Fox said, “This is not a racist country,” before moving on to “confused and depressed teenagers steered towards gender reassignment”. “Our fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly and process are also being banned,” he added. “Crippling and failed lockdowns” were followed by “who raised legitimate concerns about covid vaccines are also cancelled”.

Reclaim seems to exist for this reason. “Because he broke the silence surrounding serious harms even death occurring as a result of the MRNA jabs, Andrew was branded an anti-vaxxer, a conspiracy theorist and, yes, you guessed it, a racist,” Fox told his new MP in Bridgen.

Fox wants to expand. He said the Conservatives had “sold out to Lib Demery” and urged “disillusioned Tories in North West Leicestershire [and] disappointed Brexit voters who want to see their Leave vote put into practice” to support Bridgen.

Thus, Bridgen’s departure was portrayed as a major turning point in the cultural war in Fox’s favor. All indicators point to a little change. Reclaim’s parliamentary debut was delayed despite Bridgen’s angry bobbing during prime minister’s questions, seen by patron Fox in the gallery.

British politics has experienced several defections recently.

In 2014, Douglas Carswell abandoned the Conservative Party for UKIP and ran in a by-election. With Britain progressively separating into pro-EU and eurosceptic factions, Carswell’s defection was politically potent. Carswell claimed he “jumped ship with the express goal of changing the image of UKIP and ensuring that it was an asset rather than a liability in the referendum campaign”.

Bridgen, unlike Carswell, was expelled from the Conservatives before joining Reclaim. UKIP in 2014 was far more powerful than Fox’s Reclaim now.

Despite Bridgen’s vows, neither Reckless nor any political development will follow him into the desert. His decision to sue ex-Conservative MP Matt Hancock is unlikely to garner widespread backing.

Bridgen has also said he won’t arrange a by-election to test his constituency’s Reclaim support. The MP criticized “Anna Soubry and the rest of the ‘people’s vote’ [Change UK] defectors” for not calling by-elections because they knew they would be “bye-bye elections”.

Beyond Bridgen’s departure, “culture war” parties like Reclaim face a totemic issue. Fox invoked Thatcher during the press conference to mock Sunakian “Lib Demery” and argue that they represent the quiet majority and a pure conservative worldview. They do so without registering in national polling.

Reform UK, a larger right-of-Conservative party than Reclaim, gained six seats at the local elections with 6% of the vote. Reform, the rebranded Brexit party, is a better fit for Sunak-sceptic people than Reclaim and is practicing on tiny boats. Reclaim’s choice of Covid vaccinations is another loyalty test for right-of-centre supporters who disagree with the Conservative party’s current political course.

With UKIP’s remnants and the anti-woke, anti-migrant Social Democratic Party contending for the same political space, we are reminded of right-of-Conservative politics’ totalizing problem: too many parties and not enough voters.

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