THE SNP’s recently selected Shetland candidate for next year’s Holyrood election has called on Margaret Ferrier to resign as an MP “for the sake of the country” after she admitted to blatantly disregarding Covid-19 guidelines.
Having tested positive for the virus, on Tuesday Ferrier – the MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West – travelled on a train from London to Glasgow.
She also travelled by train from Glasgow to London on Monday to attend parliament after experiencing mild coronavirus symptoms at the weekend and requesting the test because she felt “much better”.
Ferrier has been suspended from the SNP as a result, but the party does not have the power to sack her.
Tom Wills, who was selected as the party’s candidate for the 2021 election last month having contested a 2019 by-election, made his position on the matter crystal clear on Friday.
He said: “Margaret Ferrier has acted incredibly stupidly: callously even, given the potential consequences I have always thought her well-meaning and wish her a speedy recovery from Covid, but for the sake of the country and our party, she needs to go.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon says she has spoken to Ferrier directly and “made clear my view that she should step down as an MP”. “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.”
Yesterday Ferrier issued a statement apologising “unreservedly” for her actions, adding she had notified the police.
“Despite feeling well, I should have self-isolated while waiting for my test result,” she said. “I take full responsibility and I would urge everyone not to make the same mistakes that I have, and do all they can to help limit the spread of Covid-19.”
Ferrier is not the first high-profile political figure to have breached the rules governments in London and Edinburgh are asking the rest of the population to comply with.
In May Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top advisor, refused to resign after driving 260 miles from London to Durham during lockdown before driving 30 miles to Barnard Castle to “test his eyesight” prior to returning to London.
But despite fervent calls from across the political spectrum – including Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael and Conservative Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston – Cummings refused to resign.
Halcro Johnston said on Friday that he had consistently called for resignations after high profile breaches including that of Cummings.
“But Margaret Ferrier’s case, and the clear level of risk caused to parliamentary colleagues and the public, is much more serious,” he said. “Margaret Ferrier must go – but the response of the SNP also leaves questions that must be answered.
“When were the party informed that she had Covid? When did they discover she’d had a test? And when did Nicola Sturgeon find out?”
Margaret Ferrier has acted incredibly stupidly: callously even, given the potential consequences & public health messages undermined. I have always thought her well-meaning and wish her a speedy recovery from COVID, but for the sake of the country and our party, she needs to go.
— Tom Wills (@tprwills) October 2, 2020
I’ve spoken to Margaret Ferrier and made clear my view that she should step down as an MP. I did so with a heavy heart – she is a friend & colleague – but her actions were dangerous & indefensible. I have no power to force an MP to resign but I hope she will do the right thing.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) October 2, 2020
— Margaret Ferrier MP (@MargaretFerrier) October 1, 2020