Published: 19:42, 28 January 2021
| Updated: 19:50, 28 January 2021
Thanet South MP Craig Mackinlay has described campaigners who oppose Covid-19 vaccinations as "barking mad" and "dangerous".
But he dismissed criticisms levelled at fellow Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne, who questioned the government's lockdown policy during a recorded interview in November with members of an anti-vaccine group.
He told them the virus "seems to be a manageable risk, particularly as figures have been manipulated".
He goes on to tell the anti-lockdown group: "As the last (House of Commons) Speaker used to say, (John) Bercow, he'd say 'Persist! Persist!' That's my advice - persist. And I'll persist too."
Mr Mackinlay, who is also member of the Tory Covid Recovery Group, questioned the timing, saying the interview was recorded in November.
“I don’t think he has said anything privately that he hasn't said in Parliament,” he added.
On opponents of vaccines, he said: “ They are just completely and utterly barking mad; there are no two ways around it and they must be ignored. It must not detract from anyone going to get a vaccine, which is the road to recovery.”
He added: “They are quite dangerous because what they do is to deter people [from having the vaccination] and cause unnecessary deaths - it is that serious.”
He revealed that there had been close to 1,000 people who had been vaccinated on Wednesday in Sandwich.
But across Kent 60% of the four most vulnerable age groups are still waiting for a jab. The government wants all of them to have one by February 15.
In November, there were protests in London by anti-vaccine groups that led to 150 arrests.