Recall petition to close in Covid rulebreaker Ferrier's constituency

Ferrier breached lockdown rules in 2020 when she travelled by train from London to Scotland after testing positive for Covid.

Recall petition to close in Covid rulebreaker Margaret Ferrier’s Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency STV News

A recall petition will close in Covid rulebreaker Margaret Ferrier’s constituency later on Monday.

If it has been signed by 10% or more of the Rutherglen and Hamilton West electorate, Ferrier will be removed from her seat and a by-election will be triggered.

The petition, the first in Scotland since the procedure was introduced in 2015, opened on June 20 and closes at 5pm.

It was launched after Ferrier, then an SNP MP, breached strict coronavirus rules in 2020 when she travelled by train from London to Scotland after testing positive for the virus.

Ferrier had the SNP whip removed when the allegations emerged but remains an MP, now sitting as an independent, despite intense pressure to resign her seat.

She lost an appeal against her suspension from the UK Parliament after the Westminster standards watchdog recommended a 30-day suspension from all Commons activity.

Ferrier has already served her suspension and is able to return to parliament.

How does the recall petition work?

South Lanarkshire Council will begin counting votes on Tuesday.

For a recall petition to be successful, 10% of eligible registered voters need to sign the petition.

If the 10% threshold is reached, the petition officer informs the Speaker of the House of Commons. On the giving of that notice, the seat becomes vacant and a by-election is then required.

The timing of a UK Parliamentary by-election is determined by custom of the House of Commons: the party that previously held the seat will usually decide when to trigger the by-election.

The recalled MP may stand as a candidate.

Alternatively, if the 10% threshold is not reached, the recall fails and the MP retains their seat.

There have been three recall petitions in total across the UK. Two out of the three were successful in triggering a by-election for the MP in question.

Why was Ferrier suspended?

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

Later, after the test confirmed she was positive for the virus, she took the train back to Scotland.

She has already been ordered to complete a 270-hour community payback order by a court after admitting culpably and recklessly exposing the public “to the risk of infection, illness and death” as a result of her behaviour.

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