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Furious Ian Blackford demands SNP’s Margaret Ferrier should resign

Ian Blackford has joined furious calls for SNP’s Margaret Ferrier to resign after it was revealed the MP made a 400-mile train trip knowing she had tested positive for Covid-19.  

Ms Ferrier has admitted travelling to Parliament and speaking in the Commons after developing coronavirus symptoms, and then taking a train back to Scotland after testing positive.

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She also visited a gym, shops and a beauty salon on the day she became ill, but is resisting calls to quit despite mounting anger over her ‘utterly indefensible’ actions.

The 60-year-old posted images on her social media showing her out and about in her constituency Rutherglen and Hamilton West on Saturday – the day she was tested for Covid-19. 

SNP Westminster leader Mr Blackford today blasted Ms Ferrier for what he dubbed a ‘tremendous error of judgment’, and insisted she must now ‘do the right thing for her constituents’.

Margaret Ferrier posted images on her social media showing her out and about in her Rutherglen and Hamilton West on Saturday – the day she was tested for Covid-19

He added that Ms Ferrier’s SNP whip was withdrawn on Thursday morning when the party learned of her breaches of coronavirus rules.

Mr Blackford told BBC Radio Scotland: ‘She has to reflect on the circumstances that she is now in.

‘I would say to her that her position isn’t tenable, given the circumstances that we’re in, and she has to accept her own responsibilities of what she must do. I can’t force that upon her, she is no longer an SNP MP.

‘I’m pretty angry at what has happened, it is not acceptable.

‘It’s important that it is beyond reproach that everybody, absolutely everybody, must obey the rules and we have to think about the signal that gives the public and the sacrifices that people are having to make, and it’s in the light of that that Margaret will have to do the right thing.’

Scotland Yard confirmed it was looking into Ms Ferrier’s admission on Thursday that she travelled 400 miles from Glasgow to London and then back again while suffering with Covid-19 this week. 

Images on her Twitter page showed her in several public places likely to have been busy on a Saturday, including the Vanilla Salon and South Lanarkshire Eastfield Lifestyle leisure centre in Rutherglen (pictured)

Images on her Twitter page showed her in several public places likely to have been busy on a Saturday, including the Vanilla Salon and South Lanarkshire Eastfield Lifestyle leisure centre in Rutherglen (pictured)

She travelled by train to London from Scotland last Monday while awaiting the results of a Covid test taken on Saturday, and then travelled back the following day after being told the test was positive. 

Images on her Twitter page showed her in several public places likely to have been busy on a Saturday, including the Vanilla Salon and South Lanarkshire Eastfield Lifestyle leisure centre in Rutherglen, and Sweet P gift shop in Burnside. 

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle lashed out at her astonishing actions as she faced calls from her own party leader to quit the Commons. 

Nicola Sturgeon used a series of expletives and said her ‘head was in her hands’ on being told that her ‘friend and colleague’ had broken the law, sources told the Times.

However, Ms Ferrier is resisting calls to quit and may seek to stay in the Commons as an independent, having referred herself to the parliamentary standards watchdog having been stripped of the party whip. 

Ian Blackford (pictured) has joined furious calls for SNP's Margaret Ferrier to resign after it was revealed the MP had visited a gym and a beauty salon after contracting Covid-19

Ian Blackford (pictured) has joined furious calls for SNP’s Margaret Ferrier to resign after it was revealed the MP had visited a gym and a beauty salon after contracting Covid-19

Mr Blackford insisted the SNP was unaware Ms Ferrier had taken a Covid-19 test on Saturday before travelling to Westminster to take part in a debate on coronavirus in the House of Commons on Monday.

By Ms Ferrier’s own account, she tested positive that evening, but she did not make clear whether she received the result before or after she spoke in the House.

The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP said she took a test after experiencing ‘mild symptoms’, meaning she should have self-isolated.

In a statement, she admitted she travelled home to Glasgow on Tuesday, where she has been self-isolating ever since. She apologised for her actions and said there was ‘no excuse’.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed last night that it was investigating the journeys along with British Transport Police over potential breaches of the Health Protection Regulations 2020. 

Ms Ferrier could face a £4,000 fine for a first-time offence of ‘recklessly’ coming into contact with others when she should have been self-isolating under a law that came into force on the day of her positive test.    

Astonishingly, the 60-year-old received a positive result on Monday night and still appeared in the Commons chamber (pictured), speaking in a debate on coronavirus and its impact on the economy and jobs

Astonishingly, the 60-year-old received a positive result on Monday night and still appeared in the Commons chamber (pictured), speaking in a debate on coronavirus and its impact on the economy and jobs

Nicola Sturgeon urged Margaret Ferrier to 'do the right thing' as she faced universal condemnation for her 'utterly indefensible' behaviour

Nicola Sturgeon urged Margaret Ferrier to ‘do the right thing’ as she faced universal condemnation for her ‘utterly indefensible’ behaviour

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Blackford added she had broken the law as well as coronavirus rules.

He added: ‘She has let herself down, and she has let her constituents, and indeed the country, down as well.

‘I am asking her to reflect on her position – but I think it’s very clear what I’m doing.’

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick added: ‘Margaret Ferrier has accepted that she has broken the law.

‘That’s now a matter for the police, the authorities who are investigating the matter, and it is really for her to consider what her political future is, and for her party, the SNP.’

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged Margaret Ferrier to ‘do the right thing’ as she faced universal condemnation for her ‘utterly indefensible’ behaviour . 

Ms Sturgeon said she had made it ‘crystal clear’ to Ms Ferrier that she must resign. ‘I’ve spoken to Margaret Ferrier and made clear my view that she should step down as an MP,’ she said. 

‘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.’  

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross branded Ms Ferrier’s decision to travel between London and Glasgow on a train with coronavirus symptoms as ‘reckless and dangerous’.

Mr Ross himself resigned as a Government minister over his party’s refusal to condemn Number 10 aide Dominic Cummings’s trip to Durham with his family at the height of lockdown while suffering coronavirus symptoms.

He said Ms Ferrier’s position is now ‘completely untenable’.

‘No-one can take what she says with any credibility because she has flouted the rules at every opportunity when she first became aware of the symptoms back on Saturday,’ Mr Ross said. 

Speaker Sir Lindsay told Sky News he learned the 60-year-old had coronavirus while in the Speaker’s Chair in the House of Commons at around 4pm on Wednesday. 

He said: ‘Obviously this is completely reckless behaviour for a Member of Parliament – to put staff and fellow MPs at risk is not acceptable.’

Margaret Ferrier’s statement in full

‘I apologise unreservedly for breaching Covid-19 restrictions by travelling this week when I shouldn’t have. There is no excuse for my actions.

‘On Saturday afternoon, after experiencing mild symptoms, I requested a Covid-19 test which I took that day. Feeling much better, I then travelled to London by train on Monday to attend Parliament as planned. This was wrong, and I am very sorry for my mistake.

‘On Monday evening I received a positive test result for Covid-19. I travelled home by train on Tuesday morning without seeking advice. This was also wrong and I am sorry. I have been self-isolating at home ever since.

‘I have used Test and Protect and I have notified the House of Commons authorities who have spoken with Public Health England. I have also notified the police of my actions.

‘Despite feeling well, I should have self-isolated while waiting for my test result, and I deeply regret my actions. 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.’

He added: ‘What made it worse was only being told on Wednesday on something that people knew about on Monday – well the MP themselves knew about it on Monday.’

He said the reaction was immediate and ‘within 20 minutes we were in full swing on what we needed to do to ensure the safety and security of staff and members’. 

He also voiced anger than some in the SNP knew of the situation long before he was informed.

DUP MP Jim Shannon revealed on Friday that he dined with Ms Ferrier at Parliament on Monday night and was told to self-isolate, but had since tested negative.  

The Commons said one person who had come into contact with Ms Ferrier had been told to self-isolate, with investigations into who else might be at risk set to continue. Extra cleaning precautions have also been taken – although the damage might already have been done. 

The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP said she took a test on Saturday afternoon after experiencing ‘mild symptoms’, meaning she should have self-isolated, before travelling by train to London on Monday having felt better.

Labour suggested the party covered up knowledge of Margaret Ferrier’s actions after it emerged they knew of her diagnosis a day before she disclosed it on Thursday evening. 

She spoke in the coronavirus debate in the House of Commons on Monday and, by her account, tested positive for Covid-19 that evening. She did not make clear whether she received the result before or after she spoke.

In a statement, she said she travelled home to Glasgow on Tuesday, where she has been self-isolating ever since.

‘Despite feeling well, I should have self-isolated while waiting for my test result, and I deeply regret my actions,’ she said.

Ms Sturgeon was repeatedly grilled on the situation at her daily briefing this afternoon. 

But she swiped back by comparing her response to that of Boris Johnson when his chief aide Dominic Cummings was accused of breaching rules. 

‘Trust me, it’s one of the easiest things in the world in politics to call for tough consequences when one of your opponents breaks the rules, that’s not hard for any of us,’ she said.

‘The litmus test, though, is whether you’re prepared to do the same when it’s one of your own breaking the rules.

Speaker’s fury at delay in alerting him to MP’s coronavirus status

The Commons Speaker today vented fury at the delay in informing him about Margaret Ferrier’s ‘reckless’ actions.

Sir Lindsay told Sky News he only learned Ms Ferrier had coronavirus while in the Chair at around 4pm on Wednesday.

He said the reaction was immediate and ‘within 20 minutes we were in full swing on what we needed to do to ensure the safety and security of staff and members’.

He said: ‘Obviously this is completely reckless behaviour for a Member of Parliament – to put staff and fellow MPs at risk is not acceptable.’

He added: ‘What made it worse was only being told on Wednesday on something that people knew about on Monday – well the MP themselves knew about it on Monday.’

‘And in these abnormal times when everybody has been asked to do difficult things, I think that is more important than ever.

‘That’s why the SNP whip has been withdrawn from Margaret, and that is the most serious sanction a party can impose on an elected representative.

‘I’ve also spoken to her directly and made crystal clear to her that I think she should now resign as an MP.’

The DUP issued a statement saying that Strangford MP Jim Shannon was seated at the same dining table as Ms Ferrier on Monday night. 

‘The room seating arrangements included proper social distancing measures,’ the party said.

‘On Wednesday evening, the Speaker’s Office alerted Mr Shannon that he had been identified as a close contact of an individual who had tested positive for Covid-19.

‘Upon receiving this news, Mr Shannon immediately self-isolated and on Thursday afternoon he received a negative Covid-19 test result.

‘Mr Shannon sought and at all times has followed the advice of Public Health England and the House of Commons’ Covid-19 team in dealing with every element of this incident.

‘As a precaution, Mr Shannon is self-isolating at home.’ 

The SNP gained the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat from Labour in the 2019 general election, when Ms Ferrier won with a majority of 5,230.

But her colleagues turned on her overnight after it emerged she had flouted the rules. 

David Linden, the SNP MP for the Glasgow East constituency neighbouring Ms Ferrier’s, has called for her to go.

He told BBC Question Time her behaviour is ‘utterly inexcusable’, adding: ‘I don’t think her position is tenable and she should resign.’

The DUP issued a statement saying that Strangford MP Jim Shannon was seated at the same dining table as Ms Ferrier on Monday night, but has since tested negative for Covid

The DUP issued a statement saying that Strangford MP Jim Shannon was seated at the same dining table as Ms Ferrier on Monday night, but has since tested negative for Covid

The actions of Ms Ferrier are all the more astonishing because earlier this year she was outspoken in criticising the Government for defending No10 advisor Dominic Cummings when he was accused of breaching lockdown

The actions of Ms Ferrier are all the more astonishing because earlier this year she was outspoken in criticising the Government for defending No10 advisor Dominic Cummings when he was accused of breaching lockdown

Margaret Ferrier

With Nicola Sturgeon

Margaret Ferrier said she was ‘very sorry’ for travelling from her Rutherglen seat to attend the Commons.

Margaret Ferrier: Comeback MP who won her old seat off Labour in 2019 – only to be suspended less than a year later for Covid-19 train journey 

Margaret Ferrier, 60, is MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, in central Scotland.

As an SNP candidate, she won the seat in 2015 in the party’s landslide on the back of the 2014 Independence referendum.

She was almost instantly made a party spokesperson on Scotland and was elected to the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee. 

However she was narrowly beaten by Labour in the 2017 General Election.

But in last year’s poll she retook the seat. Until tonight, she was the SNP’s spokesperson on manufacturing.

Ms Ferrier was born in Glasgow but lived in Spain for several years when she was a child.

In an interview with the Daily Record, she said she had been a member of Scottish Labour in her youth. 

This has since been echoed by Kirsty Blackman, SNP MP for Aberdeen North, and Stephen Flynn, SNP MP for Aberdeen South.

Ms Blackman said that while Ms Ferrier is an ‘unparalleled’ campaigner for the party, she must resign.

‘Margaret’s actions cannot be overlooked,’ she added in a tweet.

Mr Flynn retweeted Ms Blackman’s post, writing: ‘Impossible to disagree. The public will expect nothing less.’

Scottish Conservative leader Mr Ross, who resigned from Boris Johnson’s Government over Dominic Cummings’ lockdown movements, said ‘the public deserve clear answers’.

‘We now know that the SNP were informed on Wednesday that Margaret Ferrier had been tested, after she had already travelled back to Scotland from London by public transport while infected with the virus,’ he said.

‘These actions not only broke the law, they will have put lives at risk.

‘We must hear from Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford about exactly when they knew and why they kept this information secret from the public for hours or maybe even days.’

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray also demanded answers from First Minister Ms Sturgeon and Mr Blackford.

The Labour MP tweeted: ‘SNP in chaos & appear to be covering up serious breach of public health laws.

‘FM & Blackford must hold press conference tomorrow am to answer questions about what they did & didn’t know.’

An SNP spokeswoman insisted the party did not know until Thursday that Ms Ferrier had taken a test prior to travelling to London.

‘Ms Ferrier informed the SNP on Wednesday, when she was in Glasgow, that she had tested positive,’ she said.

‘The SNP’s chief whip immediately informed Parliament authorities. The SNP only became aware on Thursday that Ms Ferrier had been tested prior to travelling to London and had travelled back to Glasgow, knowing that she had a positive result.’

On Monday, Ms Ferrier gave a four-minute speech in the Commons from 7.15pm and focused on the ‘economic health’ of her constituents, calling for greater financial support.

A Police Scotland spokesman said officers are liaising with colleagues in the Metropolitan Police.

‘Margaret Ferrier MP contacted Police Scotland earlier today about travelling between London and Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus,’ he said.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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