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MP Margaret Ferrier’s Covid Parliament trip ‘indefensible’

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The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West spoke in a debate in the House of Commons before returning unwell back to Scotland

Scotland’s first minister says the actions of an SNP MP who travelled to Westminster despite experiencing Covid symptoms are “utterly indefensible”.

Margaret Ferrier said she made the journey because she was feeling “much better” – but also travelled home after getting a positive test result.

The MP, who has been suspended by her party, said there was “no excuse for my actions”.

Nicola Sturgeon tweeted her support for the decision to suspend the MP.

She said: “This is utterly indefensible. It’s hard to express just how angry I feel on behalf of people across the country making hard sacrifices every day to help beat Covid.

“The rules apply to everyone and they’re in place to keep people safe. @Ianblackford_MP is right to suspend the whip.”

Ms Ferrier said she took a test on Saturday – but travelled to London on Monday as she was feeling better.

The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West received a positive test result that same day, then took a train back to Scotland on Tuesday.

She said she had informed the police and that she deeply regretted her actions.

Police Scotland confirmed they had been contacted by Ms Ferrier, saying officers were “looking into the circumstances” and liaising with the Metropolitan Police Service.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said on Thursday that he had spoken to Ms Ferrier, who accepted that what she had done was wrong.

He said: “Margaret will be referring herself to the parliamentary standards commissioner as well as the police. I am tonight suspending the whip from Margaret.”

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Media captionMargaret Ferrier speaks in Commons while awaiting test result

Ms Ferrier said she took the weekend test after experiencing “mild symptoms”, but travelled to London by train at the start of the working week.

She spoke in the coronavirus debate in the House of Commons on Monday, and said she received her positive test result that evening.

“I travelled home by train on Tuesday morning without seeking advice. This was also wrong and I am sorry,” she said.

“I have been self-isolating at home ever since.”

When someone tests positive for coronavirus they normally attract sympathy and concern.

But that’s in extremely short supply for Margaret Ferrier after she admitted breaking Covid self-isolation rules.

She may have apologised for attending parliament and making lengthy journeys by public transport with coronavirus but she has not offered an explanation.

Her behaviour is far more serious than the lockdown travel breach that cost Catherine Calderwood her job as Scotland’s chief medical officer.

It is also more serious than the lockdown travels of the prime minister’s advisor, Dominic Cummings, who Mrs Ferrier called on to resign.

It is no surprise then that the Conservatives are demanding the MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West stands down from Parliament.

She has already been suspended by the SNP and the party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has described her behaviour as “utterly indefensible”.

Labour MP Ian Murray said Ms Ferrier had shown “astonishing recklessness”.

“She has put passengers, rail staff, fellow MPs, Commons staff and many others at unacceptable risk,” he said.

“To breach the rules twice is simply unforgivable, and has undermined all the sacrifices made by her constituents.”

Train drivers union Aslef described her actions as “both dangerous and disgraceful”.

The Scottish Conservatives’ Holyrood leader, Ruth Davidson, said knowingly taking public transport after testing positive for Covid-19 put lives at risk.

A House of Commons spokesperson said the House’s priority was to ensure the safety of those working on the estate.

The statement added: “We have closely followed public health guidance on the action to take following a confirmed case of Covid on site.

“Parliament has a dedicated team to support the test and trace teams across the UK, acting as a central point of contact in the event of any suspected or confirmed cases, where an individual has been working on the estate.”

Ms Ferrier was one of the MPs who called on the prime minister’s advisor Dominic Cummings to resign in the wake of the controversy over his visit to the north east of England during lockdown.

At the time, she said his actions had “undermined the sacrifices that we have all been making” and described his position as “untenable”.

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