Thursday 7 November 2019 10:30 pm

General Election 2019: Tory candidate throws in the towel after backlash from 'unacceptable' rape comments

A Conservative election candidate who said that women should “keep their knickers on” during a conversation about rape has stood down from the contest.

Nick Conrad, a BBC Radio Norfolk host, made a series of comments during a live debate about footballer Ched Evans, who was convicted of rape five years ago, before the sentence was quashed.

The then-29 year-old said: “I think women need to be more aware of a man’s sexual desire… It’s the old adage about if you yank a dog’s tail then don’t be surprised when it bites you.”

Since the comments resurfaced, they have sparked widespread criticism of Conrad, who was officially made the candidate for Broadland, in Norfolk, earlier this week. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the comments “completely unacceptable” – but stopped short of saying he should step down.

However, Conrad issued a statement this evening calling the comments “ill-judged”, and announced he had withdrawn from the election race.

“Last night I was honoured to be made the Conservative candidate for Broadland and had hoped to become the MP for a constituency which is close to my heart,” he said.

“However it has become clear to me that the media attention on my previous comments have become a distraction.

“For me, the most important thing is for the Conservative Party to be successful in the forthcoming election – getting Brexit done and delivering on the people’s priorities. 

“This is why I have reluctantly concluded I must stand down to allow one of the other excellent candidates the opportunity to win this fantastic seat.”

During the radio discussion, Conrad said if “a woman says no” and a man persisted then that was “absolutely abhorrent”.

But he added: “In their fury against men and masculinity they actually forget to stop and say if you tease, if you jump into bed naked with a man, if you give him all the signals and then he acts upon them, then you are partially responsible.

“If you don’t wish to give out the wrong signals it’s best probably to keep your knickers on and not get into bed with him.”

Conrad was censured by the BBC and Ofcom at the time. However on Wednesday he was chosen to stand for the Conservative safe seat of Broadland in Norfolk.

Today, after a HuffPo article revived the scandal, Johnson told reporters on the election trail: “Those comments are completely unacceptable, he has apologised long ago but I can’t stress that those comments are completely unacceptable.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: “These views should be consigned to the dustbin of history. They have no place in the 21st century, let alone in parliament. He is not fit to be an MP and it would be an affront to women everywhere if he were to become one.

“Boris Johnson himself wrote that the way to deal with advice from a female colleague was to ‘just pat her on the bottom and send her on her way’, Johnson’s been accused of squeezing the thigh of a young journalist at a work lunch and just yesterday one of his senior ministers resigned after misleading the public about what he knew about his aide’s role in sabotaging a rape trial.

“We must stand against the misogyny that infects the Conservative Party from top to bottom, including their own leader.”

Main image: Getty