A Conservative candidate has stood down after Boris Johnson criticised his remarks from 2014 saying women should keep their “knickers on” to avoid rape.
Nick Conrad, a 34-year-old former radio presenter, was chosen on Wednesday evening to stand in the Broadland constituency in Norfolk. However, he withdrew on Thursday night, saying: “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.”
In a 2014 radio exchange about rape allegations, Conrad suggested women were “partially responsible” for sexual assault. “I think women need to be more aware of a man’s sexual desire,” he said on BBC Radio Norfolk. “When you’re in that position that you are about to engage in sexual activity there’s a huge amount of energy in the male body.
“There’s a huge amount of will and intent and it’s very difficult for many men to say no when they are whipped up into a bit of a storm.”
He continued: “It’s the old adage about if you yank a dog’s tail then don’t be surprised when it bites you. You can’t keep snakes in the garden and think they’ll only bite your neighbours.”
Johnson, when asked on Thursday about the selection of Conrad, said: “Those comments are completely unacceptable, he has apologised long ago but I can’t stress [enough] that those comments are completely unacceptable.”
Both the Conservatives and Labour are processing dozens of new candidates for next month’s general election.
Conrad stood down as the Radio Norfolk breakfast host in order to seek the MP nomination after Keith Simpson, a longstanding one-nation Tory, announced he would not seek re-election.
The 2014 radio discussion focused on the case of the footballer Ched Evans, who was originally convicted of a rape charge in May 2011. The conviction was quashed and overturned at a retrial in 2016.
During the discussion, Conrad said if “a woman says no” and a man persisted then that was “absolutely abhorrent”. But added: “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.
“What I’m trying to say is that women also have to understand that when a man’s given certain signals, he’ll wish to act upon them and 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 apologised three days later, saying his remarks were ill judged and that he was sorry “to anybody who was offended”.
Reacting to Conrad’s selection as Tory candidate for Broadland, Labour’s Jess Phillips said: “It’s best to keep your knickers on to avoid rape according to this dude. I find it’s best avoided by never coming in to contact with misogynistic men who have no understanding of consent.”
The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, described Conrad’s comments as “despicable” and called for his candidacy to be withdrawn.
“He is not fit to be an MP and it would be an affront to women everywhere if he were to become one,” she said.