Scottish Labour ramps up pressure as Margaret Ferrier refuses to resign

Andrew Kersley

Richard Leonard has called on the SNP to expel under-pressure MP Margaret Ferrier from the party after the representative for Rutherglen and Hamilton West refused to step down from parliament.

Ferrier, who has had the whip suspended by the SNP, has faced repeated calls in recent days to quit parliament after it was revealed she travelled from Glasgow to London and back while infected with coronavirus.

The Scottish Labour leader has since ramped up his demands on the Scottish government and said that kicking Ferrier out of the party is the “only step available to the SNP leadership now”.

Leonard said: “Having had the weekend to reflect on her action, Margaret Ferrier has shown she is more interested in keeping her Westminster salary and perks than she is in doing the right thing. The only step available to the SNP leadership now is to expel her from the party.”

Ferrier felt unwell and took a Covid test during the last weekend of September, then subsequently took a 380-mile train journey to London the following Monday, even delivering a speech to the Commons that day.

The now former SNP representative then received a positive result and still chose not to self-isolate, instead taking a train home to Glasgow. She issued a statement on Thursday apologising for the breach that has since led to a police investigation.

The new comments from Scottish Labour represent a step up on the party’s initial response last week, in which Richard Leonard said: “I wish Margaret Ferrier a speedy recovery. But her reckless actions have rendered her unfit for public office.

“Someone who has so outrageously flouted the laws that she has asked her constituents and the wider public to live by should no longer be voting on these laws. She has forfeited her right to be an MP and should resign immediately and force a by-election.

“Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford must now state when they became aware of the breaches, and make public any internal party conversations that have already taken place about this case.”

Train drivers’ union ASLEF has called on Ferrier to reveal which train services she took earlier this week, with organiser Kevin Lindsay describing the journeys that “put passengers and staff at risk” as “unforgivable” and “outrageous”.

Shadow Scotland Secretary Ian Murray wrote to SNP Westminster leader Angus Blackford last week seeking answers on when exactly SNP whips were informed of Ferrier’s movements and when they became aware she had received a positive test.

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