Disgraced Covid rule-breaking MP Ferrier loses seat in recall petition

The former SNP MP has become the first to be recalled in Scotland after breaching strict coronavirus rules to travel to London in 2020.

A by-election has been triggered in South Lanarkshire after a recall petition against Covid rule-breaking MP Margaret Ferrier passed.

Around 14% of the Rutherglen and Hamilton West electorate backed unseating the former SNP MP after she breached strict coronavirus rules in 2020 to travel by train from London to Scotland following a positive test for the disease.

It marks the first time the procedure has been used in Scotland since it was introduced in 2015.

To pass, it was required for more than 10% of the electorate to back recalling her.

South Lanarkshire Council confirmed 11,896 people of the 81,123-strong electorate had backed the move, amounting to 14.66%, with 37 spoiled papers.

Parties will now put forward their candidates for the seat, which Ferrier won from Labour in 2019, though she can still stand as an independent or for another party.

She had the SNP whip removed when the allegations emerged but remained an MP, sitting as an independent.

However, Ferrier 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 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.

The 62-year-old had 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.

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