Scottish MP Margaret Ferrier will not resign despite backlash over repeatedly breaching coronavirus rules by travelling after developing symptoms.
Earlier this month, Ferrier admitted to travelling from Glasgow to Westminster while awaiting a Covid-19 test result, and making the return trip when she knew she had the virus.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford have been among those calling on Ferrier to stand down over the incident, while Scottish Labour has launched an online petition calling for her to resign.
However in an interview with The Scottish Sun on Sunday, the MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, who has had the SNP whip withdrawn over the saga, said she had no intention of standing down.
She told the paper: “This has been an awful experience but I’ll keep fighting for my constituents because that’s who I am.”
She added that she has received support locally in the wake of the incident and has “owned up and apologised profusely”.
Ferrier revealed to the paper her reasoning for travelling to Westminster after taking a Covid-19 test was “wanting to represent her constituents” and take part in a parliamentary debate – something which could not be done virtually.
She also spoke out about the level of criticism she has received over the incident, adding: “You feel you are getting a lot of criticism from people you thought were your colleagues or friends who’d understand it was an error of judgement. I’m not denying that.
“People may be saying, ‘You should have known better, you’re a public figure’. But at the end of the day it still hurts. You then think about all that hard work and dedication – is that just wiped away?”
Asked why the MP has not been suspended, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We suspended her from party membership, we now have a due process we’ve got to go through.
“I can’t unilaterally decide to expel somebody, we have a process and the SNP in that process will take its course, we’ve done everything in terms of SNP membership that we’re able to do at this stage.
“No party leader has the power to make an MP resign from Parliament but I couldn’t be clearer, she should step down from Parliament, the lapse of judgment in travelling hundreds of miles knowing she had tested positive for Covid was so significant and so unacceptable that I don’t think there is any other acceptable course of action for her.
“I’ve read her comments in the media today but I still hope she will do the right thing.”
She added: “I have to stand and ask people across the country to do horrendously difficult things, to not visit their loved ones, right now I’m asking people to understand why they can’t go to a pub or a restaurant, and it is unacceptable that somebody in her position flagrantly disregarded the rules like that and I cannot be clearer about that, it is not acceptable and she should resign.”
Commenting on Ferrier’s statement, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Margaret Ferrier’s comments show she has learned nothing.
“She is refusing to face up to her reckless, selfish and dangerous behaviour.
“Her intention to cling on until the next election is treating her constituents with contempt.
“Providing that she is suspended from the Commons for more than ten sitting days, I have no doubt that a re-call petition would gather more than enough support to trigger a by-election.
“Margaret Ferrier should save them the trouble, re-think her arrogant stance, and resign.”