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MP faces mounting calls to quit for ‘gobsmacking’ coronvirus rules breach

Written by on 02/10/2020

Pressure is mounting on an MP who broke coronavirus rules to quit, after she was accused of making “a huge error of judgement”.

Margaret Ferrier has already been kicked out of the SNP parliamentary party but is facing calls to leave the Commons completely over her actions.

She travelled from Scotland to London on Monday despite having had COVID-19 symptoms and been tested, made a speech in parliament and then found out she was positive – before proceeding to travel home again by rail.

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Her admission left the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford “gobsmacked”, as he suggested she should resign.

“I don’t have any powers over her… I can’t force an MP to resign,” he told Sky News’ Kay Burley show.

RUTHERGLEN, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 04: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits Burnside Pharmacy and Cafe Gelato, while on the election campaign trail on November 4, 2019 in Rutherglen, Scotland. Meeting voters and activists with SNP candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Margaret Ferrier, Nicola Sturgeon said, “Boris Johnson is desperate to do a post Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump, which will undoubtedly include prescription drug prices and access to the NHS. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Image: The MP won a seat for the SNP at the last election

But he added: “I think Margaret has got to reflect on her position as an MP. She knows we will be judged by our actions…

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“I have to say, when you have a breach such as this it’s really important that you take your own responsibilities.

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“Margaret’s an honourable individual… there is that responsibility – there’s that honour and dignity that you have to have as a public official, and I think it’s pretty clear Margaret should do the right thing.

“I can’t compel her to do that but she has to reflect on the circumstances that she’s put herself and other people in.”

Ian Blackford
Image: Ian Blackford said MPs had to have ‘honour and dignity’

Under the coronavirus rules, anyone who has symptoms should isolate until their test results come through and only be released if it comes back negative.

Ms Ferrier disregarded that – and also the duty for anyone who tests positive to stay at home, opting instead to take a train from Westminster to Glasgow.

The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP, who won her seat from Labour in the 2019 election, has faced calls to quit from other SNP politicians, including David Linden who said her position is not “tenable” and Kirsty Blackman who added her “actions cannot be overlooked”.

A quick investigation as to whom Ms Ferrier could have infected identified one close contact – who has luckily tested negative for coronavirus, Mr Blackford added in his interview with Sky News.

MPs go back to parliament after the summer recess
Image: Ms Ferrier made a speech in parliament despite not having had her test result back

She faces a fine of up to £4,000 under a new law that came into force on the day of her positive test result.

Police Scotland said officers are “looking into the circumstances”, along with the Metropolitan Police.

It follows a string of other high-profile figures breaking the rules, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who attended a dinner party with eight other people – breaching the rule of six.

And Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s top adviser, made headlines in spring for travelling 260 miles from London to Durham during lockdown with COVID-19 symptoms, then travelling to a beauty spot to allegedly test his eyesight.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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