Former Tory MP Stewart Jackson has provoked outrage after he called the stepfather of a child in hospital “a pathetic cretin” on Twitter.
The ex-Peterborough MP, who later became a special adviser to David Davis when he was Brexit Secretary, has been called on to apologise after the online attack, which many believed was directed at the youngster himself.
Anthony Hobley, CEO of financial think tank Carbon Bubble, tweeted on Saturday that his stepson had undergone an operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital and was unable to attend the anti-Brexit People’s Vote march in central London.
“He’s incredibly brave but gutted he can’t be at the #PeoplesVoteMarch today with his brothers and sisters,” Hobley wrote, posting a picture of the boy holding an EU flag in his hospital bed.
In a response to the tweet, that was later deleted, Jackson wrote: “What a pathetic cretin.”
Shocked campaigners and MPs called on the former politician to apologise and remove his comment.
Labour’s Wes Streeting wrote: “This is beneath you. You should delete it and issue a grovelling apology.”
To which Jackson responded: “What sort of individual invades their sick child’s privacy at a sensitive time to make a political point about the so called Peoples Vote? Really. Awful.”
Ealing MP Rupa Huq, who spoke at Saturday’s rally, said: “Absolutely disgraceful from Tories at every level, chilling talk of knives and nooses re: PM from her own MPs and now this defeated one insulting a little poorly kid.”
“May’s “nasty party” jibe never truer, all thanks to toxic Brexit having poisoned political atmosphere...,” she added.
Jackson told HuffPost UK his remark was “obviously” referring to the child’s stepfather, not the boy himself.
“I just think politics is in a low place when Remainers use their kids in this way. Invading the child’s privacy whilst in hospital to make a political point on the People’s Vote,” he said.
“Not what most decent people would do.”