MP Margaret Ferrier faces calls to resign for flouting Covid rules | Politics

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Margaret Ferrier, the former Scottish National party MP who made a 400-mile train trip knowing she had tested positive for coronavirus, is facing increasing pressure to resign as anger mounts at her “utterly indefensible” actions.

Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the SNP and first minister of Scotland, said she had spoken to Ferrier on Friday morning “and made clear my view that she should step down as an MP”.

Sturgeon tweeted: “I did so with a heavy heart – she is a friend and colleague – but her actions were dangerous and indefensible. I have no power to force an MP to resign but I hope she will do the right thing.”

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, told BBC Radio Scotland that Ferrier’s position “isn’t tenable given the circumstances that we are in and she has to accept her own responsibilities”.

Pressed on whether she should resign immediately, Blackford said: “I can’t force that on her. She is no longer an SNP MP.” Blackford withdrew the party whip from Ferrier on Thursday evening.

The SNP is facing questions about when it knew that the MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West – who travelled to the Commons from Scotland after taking a test and spoke in the chamber while awaiting the result – had broken the law. The Scottish Conservatives are calling for the SNP to expel Ferrier from the party.

Uk coronavirus cases

The UK housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, refused to call for Ferrier to resign, saying: “It is a matter for her to decide what she wants to do. It wouldn’t be right for me to comment on the police’s investigation.”

Jenrick himself faced questions in April after the Guardian revealed that he had travelled 40 miles to his parents’ home in Shropshire after urging the public to stay at home during lockdown.

Jenrick was asked whether political figures flouting coronavirus guidance – such as Ferrier, Dominic Cummings and, more recently, Jeremy Corbyn and Stanley Johnson – made it harder to enforce public health messages because it gave the impression that people in the “Westminster club” were above the law.

He said: “Nobody is above the law, and she has accepted she broke the law on multiple occasions … I don’t think it’s wise for politicians to pass comment on individual cases.”

Ferrier was one of many MPs to call for Cummings to resign after the Guardian and Daily Mirror revealed that the prime minister’s adviser had travelled to Durham after his wife became ill with suspected coronavirus and the day before he also fell sick.

Blackford told the Good Morning Scotland programme that the first he knew of Ferrier’s actions was on Thursday morning, hours before she released her apology statement shortly after 6pm.

He said he asked the SNP’s chief whip, Patrick Grady, to put questions to Ferrier to establish a timeline. “It was only on Thursday afternoon that I was fully aware of everything that had happened. On the basis of that, I had a conversation with Margaret and we moved to suspend the whip.”

He added: “The facts of the matter are that she had a test on Saturday, she travelled down [to Westminster] on Monday and was given the results of the test on Monday evening and took the decision to travel home. At no point did she tell us that these things had taken place.”

Blackford said Ferrier’s constituents were right to feel angry. “She has been a hard-working MP, a diligent MP. This is gut-wrenching but it’s an enormous error of judgment that she’s made and she has to do the right thing for her constituents.”

Ferrier, who has referred herself to the parliamentary standards commissioners and police, faces fury from SNP colleagues, with her neighbouring MP David Linden also calling for her resignation.

Police Scotland suggested Ferrier could face an investigation and a possible fine. A spokesman said: “We are aware of the circumstances and are liaising with our colleagues in the Metropolitan police.”

There was widespread criticism of Ferrier from opposition parties, with Douglas Ross MP, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, calling her her to go “with immediate effect” and the Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard, saying “her reckless actions have rendered her unfit for public office”.

Also speaking on Good Morning Scotland, the Scottish Conservative MP John Lamont said the SNP had the option to expel Ferrier from the party.

Lamont said: “There’s now serious questions not just for Ms Ferrier but for the SNP, when they knew about the course of action she was proposing to take and that she did take. For example, she applied for her proxy on Monday evening, we understand. Did she tell colleagues within the SNP why she needed the proxy, did she explain she’d had a test, that she was displaying signs of Covid and what action did they take? There’s very serious questions for the SNP about what they knew when.”

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: MP Margaret Ferrier faces calls to resign for flouting Covid rules | Politics

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