A recording of Mr Lavery’s controversial remarks about COVID-19 was published by the Guidio Fawkes website. Shortly afterwards, Mr Lavery was hit with a backlash on Twitter, with some critics accusing him of making “sick” comments about the epidemic. Mr Lavery said to Labour activists on a call: “’By the way, when something like this happens, we’re going to see lots of our own people dying as a consequence.
“But, you know apart from that, it’s going to give the fantastic battalion of Labour Party members, community champions out there, a great opportunity of showing how Labour, and why Labour, is best when it gets on the front foot and best when it brings people together.
“We need to make sure that we do that and community organising – what a great opportunity it’s going to give us.
“Every one of us, every one of our families… relations, friends, organising the communities, because there is going to be lots of people out there that really need our help.”
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen hit out at Mr Lavery’s words.
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Mr Bridgen said: “Ian Lavery literally salivating at the thought of possibly tens of thousands of our vulnerable citizens perishing because he hopes it might breathe life into the dead corpse which is the current Labour Party.
“I am disgusted.
“Labour must denounce his remarks immediately.”
Earlier this month Mr Bridgen began self-isolating after he had come into contact with fellow Tory MP Nadine Dorries, who tested positive for COVID-19.
Pro-Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes also took to Twitter to voice his disapproval for Mr Lavery’s choice of words.
He said: “To attempt to use this global crisis that risks the total collapse of our health and social care system as an ‘opportunity’ for partisan point scoring shows the moral vacuum at the heart of the Opposition.
“What an awful thing to say.”
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And another person tweeted: “This comment by Ian Lavery is pretty high up on the ‘sick list’!”
But Mr Lavery hit back at the report, claiming it was misleading.
He said: “Intentionally misleading reporting is really disappointing at a time like this.
“I’ve spoken about the opportunity for people to get out there and help their local communities and those in need.
“Nonsense to suggest otherwise. We all need to do our bit to get through this crisis.”
He later shared another tweet showing a screenshot of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn talking to a group on a video conference.
Mr Lavery said: “Despite what completely misleading articles say, I was extremely proud to rally over 2,000 Labour Party members to go out and help those most in need across all communities.
“We have a battalion of over 580,000 members and we need them to help in this crisis.”
A total of 337 people in Britain have died from the virus and 6,735 have been infected.
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