Starmer: Ferrier refusing to quit “beggars belief”

Elliot Chappell

Keir Starmer has declared it “beggars belief that Margaret Ferrier thinks it is appropriate to continue as an MP” after it was revealed that the SNP representative had breached coronavirus regulations several times.

Commenting ahead of a ‘Call Keir’ event that the Labour leader will be holding via Zoom with residents in Ferrier’s constituency today, he described her resistance to step down as a “gross error of judgement”.

Speaking ahead of the remote meeting, Starmer said that he wants to “speak directly to local residents about this scandal, to those locally who are feeing angry and frustrated about the situation”.

He added: “I also want to hear how the community is coping with coronavirus, how they feel the UK and Scottish governments have handled the pandemic, and what the Labour Party needs to do to rebuild trust among those voters we have lost.”

The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, who was elected to represent the SNP but has now had the whip suspended, is facing calls to quit parliament after it was revealed that she travelled from Glasgow to London and back with Covid-19.

Ferrier has said she felt unwell and took a coronavirus test before embarking on a 380-mile train journey to London, while waiting for the result instead of self-isolating, and delivered a speech on Covid in the House of Commons.

The Scottish MP then received a positive result and again chose not to self-isolate but took another train to return to Glasgow. She apologised in a statement on last week for the behaviour, which led to a police investigation.

Labour’s Ian Murray wrote to SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford last week in the search for answers over the scandal that saw the MP flagrantly breach Covid rules and put other people’s lives at risk.

The Shadow Scottish Secretary asked why action was “not taken immediately to withdraw the whip” once the details were known, and why it took “public outrage” before Blackford “openly criticised” Ferrier’s actions.

The comments from Keir Starmer today follow those of the Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who declared on Monday that kicking Ferrier out of her party was the “only step available to the SNP leadership now”.

The ‘Call Keir’ meeting is part of a series of public events launched in April to allow people to highlight issues relating to the health crisis that they want raised with government, and to facilitate discussion about why Labour lost in 2019.

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