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Ex-SNP MP Margaret Ferrier is handed a 30-day Commons ban and could lose her seat in a by-election for knowingly travelling across the UK while ill with Covid
- MP travelled from Glasgow to London in September 2020 after taking Covid test
- She returned to Scotland after receiving a positive result instead of isolating
A former SNP MP could lose her seat after being banned from the Common for 30 days over a cross-Britain journey she took when she knew she was ill with Covid.
The suspension handed to Margaret Ferrier, the independent MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, is enough to trigger a recall petition in the southern Scottish seat, if voters ask for one.
A by-election would offer a glimpse of SNP fortunes as Humza Yousaf’s party finds itself mires in a donations scandal.
If Labour was able to overturn its 5,320 majority from 2019 it would hand Sir Keir Starmer a boost in his hopes of taking power in No10.
The Commons voted 185 to 40, majority 145, to approve the motion to suspend Ms Ferrier, who was in the Commons chamber to learn her fate. While the SNP voted for a ban to trigger a by-election, 32 Tories supported her and 290 abstained.
The suspension handed to Margaret Ferrier, the independent MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, is enough to trigger a recall petition in the southern Scottish seat.
They included Daniel Kawczynski, former ministers David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Tory grandees Sir Bill Cash and Sir Edward Leigh.
Former Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who now represents the Reclaim Party, also voted to reject the motion, as did Alba Party MPs Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill, and the DUP MPs Gregory Campbell and Gavin Robinson.
Ms Ferrier was accompanied in the Commons Chamber by Conservative former minister Andrew Selous and SNP MP Carol Monaghan.
At one point, Mr Kawczynski, the Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, was seen walking to the opposition benches to shake her hand.
Under parliamentary rules, any ban of 10 days or more allows a recall petition to be help.
If more than 10 per cent of the electorate in her seat sign it, a by-election will be held.
Michael Shanks, Scottish Labour candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, said: Michael Shanks said “This is welcome news for those of us who live here, but it is a disgrace that Margaret Ferrier has dragged this process out for so long, leaving her constituents unrepresented in Parliament.’
In March, Parliament’s Committee on Standards recommended the punishment for Margaret Ferrier over her incredible breach of coronavirus rules.
The MP travelled in and around Glasgow and to London in September 2020 after taking a test, instead of isolating.
While awaiting the results, she spoke in the Houses of Parliament and visited places in London. She then returned to Scotland after receiving a positive result.
Ms Ferrier, who was kicked out by the SNP over the astonishing journey, has already been ordered to do 270 hours of unpaid work after admitting culpably and recklessly exposing the public ‘to the risk of infection, illness and death’.
SNP by-election campaign coordinator David Linden MP said: ‘There must now be a by-election, which the SNP has been calling for since Ms Ferrier’s Covid rule-breach first came to light in 2020.
‘People in Rutherglen and Hamilton West are paying an unacceptable price for the damaging policies of the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party, as the cost of living soars.
‘The SNP is the only party offering a real alternative. We will put the cost of living, NHS and independence at the heart of our campaign – and we’ll work hard for every vote to ensure the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West can elect a strong SNP MP to stand up for them.’