MP ‘will not stand in by-election’ caused by her Covid rule break

A total of 11,896 voters signed Scotland’s first recall petition after Margaret Ferrier broke Covid rules in September 2020.

Margaret Ferrier ‘will not stand in by-election’ triggered by Covid rule break STV News

Margaret Ferrier has said she will not stand in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election triggered by her Covid rule-breaking.

A total of 11,896 voters signed Scotland’s first recall petition after the former SNP MP travelled by train at the height of pandemic in September 2020, having tested positive for the virus.

Ms Ferrier had the whip removed when her Covid rule-breaking came to light and was suspended from the House of Commons in June for 30 days, beginning the recall petition process.

In a statement to Sky News following the result, she said it had been a “difficult and taxing process” and she did not want to “prolong it further”.

“I respect the outcome of the petition,” the statement said.

“It has been the privilege of my life to serve as the member of parliament for Rutherglen and Hamilton West. I have always put my job and my constituents first, and I am disappointed that this will now come to an end.

“I decided some time ago that I would not stand in the upcoming by-election. This has been a difficult and taxing process that has now come to its conclusion and I do not wish to prolong it further.

“I would like to thank my team for their loyalty and continued dedication to supporting me in delivering for my constituents.”

The contest in her seat, near Glasgow, will be keenly fought by Labour and the SNP.

South Lanarkshire Council administered the petition and tweeted earlier on Tuesday: “Result of the petition to remove Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier.

“Petition successful. Total electorate 81,123. Number of electors who validly signed the petition 11,896. Percentage of electors who validly signed the petition 14.66%. 37 returns were rejected.”

Ms Ferrier travelled from Scotland to Westminster after testing for Covid in September 2020 and went on to speak in the House of Commons while awaiting the results.

After the result confirmed she was positive for the virus, she took the train back to Scotland.

In September last year she was handed a 270-hour community payback order after admitting culpably and recklessly exposing the public “to the risk of infection, illness and death”.

The 62-year-old has resisted calls to resign from her seat and urged her constituents not to sign the petition.

First Minister and SNP leader Humza Yousaf has said the circumstances in Rutherglen and Hamilton West are “challenging” for his party, but it nevertheless has “solid support”.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie said her party is confident of a victory in a by-election, saying a defeat would lead to deep “soul searching”.

She described the seat as an “important milestone” towards Labour’s aim of forming a majority government in the general election.

In 2019, Ms Ferrier won the constituency with a majority of 5,230, taking 44.2% of the vote.

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