A Norfolk school has become embroiled in an extraordinary row with its local Conservative parliamentary candidate over comments he made at a hustings it hosted.

Thorpe St Andrew School has lodged an official complaint with the party about its Norwich North candidate, Nick Rose, following the Question Time-style event.

Norwich Evening News: Nick Rose, parliamentary candidate for Norwich NorthNick Rose, parliamentary candidate for Norwich North (Image: Nick Rose)

It said his comments about transgender people and migrants were "incendiary" and "inappropriate" for the audience of sixth-form students.

However, Mr Rose has defended his "plain speaking" remarks to an audience of "young adults" and said he would continue to "always speak up for the quiet majority drowned out by a woke minority".

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Mr Rose - who is standing to succeed Chloe Smith as Tory MP at the next election - appeared at the event on Monday alongside Alice Macdonald, his Labour opponent, Susan Holland, a Liberal Democrat councillor and leader of Broadland District Council, as well as Jan Davis, a Green councillor.

Norwich Evening News: L-R: Nick Rose, Norwich South candidate David Thomas and prime minister Rishi SunakL-R: Nick Rose, Norwich South candidate David Thomas and prime minister Rishi Sunak (Image: Norwich Conservatives)

In a discussion about transgender issues, he was asked about whether transwomen should be allowed in female prisons and comments made by Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, in which she said: "Transwomen have no place in women’s [hospital] wards or indeed any safe space relating to biological women."

Mr Rose told the Thorpe audience: "A bloke wearing a dress who identifies as a woman should be not be in a woman's prison and should not be allowed in women's toilets.

 

"How on earth can all of you ladies here allow a bloke in a skirt into your loos? It's disgusting."

When asked about other remarks made by Ms Braverman - in which she described the arrival of immigrants in small boats across the Channel as an "invasion on our southern coast" - Mr Rose said: "We've got too many illegal migrants coming in. It is an invasion. We are being invaded."

Broad Horizons Education Trust, which represents Thorpe St Andrew School, said it had complained about Mr Rose to Ms Smith.

Norwich Evening News: Former home secretary Suella BravermanFormer home secretary Suella Braverman (Image: PA)

Don Evans, its chief executive, said: "Broad Horizons believes that exposure to political debate and processes can provide valuable learning opportunities for our students.

"However, as a Trust that has inclusion at its heart, we also believe that it is incumbent on any adult who works in, or visits, our schools to be mindful of and considerate to the needs of the whole school community.

"We are aware of a number of incendiary comments made at the Question Time event by Mr Rose.

Norwich Evening News: Thorpe St Andrew SchoolThorpe St Andrew School (Image: Newsquest)

"We do not feel those comments were appropriate to be aired in a school environment in the manner he chose to do so, as they conflict with the inclusive environment of the school community and are at odds with the content of the school’s curriculum.

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"While we fully support the principle that our students should experience a broad range of views and opinions, we cannot allow our schools to become a platform for views that are fundamentally incompatible with our approach and ethos.

"We have made a complaint to Chloe Smith MP, the incumbent MP, who we understand has referred the matter to the Norwich Conservative Association."

Norwich Evening News: Don Evans, chief executive of Broad Horizons Education TrustDon Evans, chief executive of Broad Horizons Education Trust (Image: Boudica Schools Trust)

Mr Rose, a former Bournemouth councillor, was unrepentant.

"The hall was packed with very bright young adults, who asked some intelligent questions," he said.

"Two students read out tweets by Suella Braverman and asked me my thoughts.

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"One tweet was about migrants entering the UK illegally by boats, to which I agreed with Suella’s position that it is an 'invasion'.

Norwich Evening News: Nick Rose and Suella BravermanNick Rose and Suella Braverman (Image: Nick Rose)

"The other tweet was about transwomen being allowed into women’s prisons, to which I said that blokes wearing dresses should not be allowed anywhere near women’s safe spaces.

"As a recent poll showed that a third of Britons did not realise a ‘transwoman’ was a ‘man’, I chose my words very carefully, so the young adults present knew exactly what I meant.

Norwich Evening News: The school submitted a complaint to Norwich North MP Chloe SmithThe school submitted a complaint to Norwich North MP Chloe Smith (Image: PA)

"I also said that men should not be allowed into ladies toilets, and that every young lady in the audience should be outraged that their hard-fought-for women’s rights were being eroded by a few misogynistic men.

"I appreciate that my plain speaking will upset some people, but if elected as the next MP for Norwich North, I promise to always speak up for the quiet majority drowned out by a woke minority."

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The row is not the first controversy Mr Rose has attracted in recent days.

On Saturday, he deleted a post on X - previously Twitter - in which he referred to "idle benefit scroungers".

Norwich Evening News: The now-deleted tweet from Nick RoseThe now-deleted tweet from Nick Rose (Image: Newsquest)

He wrote that after two days of canvassing in north Norwich he had found "lots of people supportive of Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives for hard work reducing inflation, and for pushing idle benefits scroungers back into work".

The post also included a photograph of him out campaigning with Ms Smith and other local Tories.

He did not retract the comments, but said: "I deleted my post because it had photos of colleagues in it, and I was wrong and am sorry to have associated them with my personal comments."

A spokesman for the Norwich Conservatives said: “We are aware of reports of comments attributed to Nick Rose during a hustings at Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form.

"The matter is under investigation. Norwich North Conservative associations firmly condemns all forms of hatred."