SNP MP Margaret Ferrier Refuses to Resign, Claims COVID-19 Caused Her to Act ‘Out of Character’
AFP 2020 / ADRIAN DENNISNews16:00 GMT 11.10.2020Get short URLby James Baillie
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Speaking to Sky TV on Sunday, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said no party leader has the power to force a member of parliament to resign from post. But she added that “lapse of judgement” of embattled Margaret Ferrier was “so significant and so unacceptable” that she should step down.
Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Margaret Ferrier has defied calls for her to resign as an MP over her 800-mile round-trip from Scotland to London while suffering from coronavirus, in an interview with the Sun on Sunday on 11 October.
The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West insisted she would not stand down and trigger a by-election, claiming Covid “makes you act out of character” and adding that she was “not thinking straight” when she made the trip.
The SNP has was stripped her of the party whip on October 1 for putting people’s lives at risk but has not yet expelled her from the party.
Ferrier said she was “utterly shocked” when she received her positive test result, two days after she displayed Covid-19 symptoms.
SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon repeated her call for Ferrier to resign her seat but insisted her party would have to go through “due process” before expelling her.
Ferrier’s refusal to quit comes after the First Minister made a personal plea in a telephone to the MP, whom she described as a friend, to quit on October 2.
London’s Metropolitan Police and Police Scotland have both launched investigations into Ferrier for a potential breach of coronavirus laws and she also faces a separate Commons inquiry.
How the Ferrier scandal unfolded
The MP visited a beauty salon, gym and gift shop on Saturday September 26, the first day she displayed Covid symptoms. Later the same day she travelled to a Covid testing centre after feeling unwell. The next day she felt better, and gave a church reading in Glasgow.
On Monday September 28 Ferrier took the train to London while she awaited the results because she was “feeling much better” and spoke in a Commons coronavirus debate at 7.15pm that evening.
She learned of her positive test result that evening, shortly after speaking in the Commons, and told SNP whips she had to return to Scotland because of a “family illness.”
The Commons authorities were informed on September 30 that she had the virus but it only emerged the following day that she had been tested before, not after her London trip.
“At that moment, when I thought it would come back negative and it was positive, I was utterly shocked. You could have knocked me over…”
The longer Ferrier refuses to stand down, the more damage could be inflicted on Sturgeon’s public health message and her personal political authority.
On Sunday October 11, Sturgeon told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge: “I have read the comments in the media today and I still hope that she (Ferrier) will do the right thing. We suspended her from party membership, we now have a due process we’ve got to go through. I can’t unilaterally decide to expel somebody, we have a process and the SNP in that process will take its course, we’ve done everything in terms of SNP membership that we’re able to do at this stage.”