Scottish MP With Coronavirus Got Train To London And Back

·Deputy Political Editor, HuffPost UK
·4-min read

An MP has admitted travelling from Scotland to London and back by train despite having coronavirus.

Margaret Ferrier said she “apologised unreservedly” and admitted “there is no excuse for my actions”.

She broke self isolation restrictions multiple times – first by travelling from her Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency by train on Monday, having experienced Covid-19 symptoms and taken a test on the Saturday.

On Monday evening, having arrived in London, she received a positive test result – but still decided to get a train back to Scotland on Tuesday morning.

Her actions risk spreading the disease to anyone she came into contact with on her journey, while in parliament, or anywhere else she visited on Monday and Tuesday.

And she risks a £1,000 fine in England.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford later said Ferrier has had the party whip removed, effectively suspending her from the party.

Ferrier spoke inside the Commons chamber in Monday’s debate on coronavirus, when she paid tribute to “to all NHS key workers and volunteers in my constituency for their care and commitment over the past seven months”.

Labour said Ferrier’s decisions amounted to “astonishing recklessness”and urged Scottish first minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to set out disciplinary action.

Sturgeon condemned the “utterly indefensible” behaviour amid calls for the MP to resign, including from within her own party.

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In a statement, the SNP MP said: “I apologise unreservedly for breaching Covid-19 restrictions by travelling this week when I shouldn’t have. There is no excuse for my actions.”

Ferrier said she had also notified the Commons authorities, who have spoken with Public Health England, as well as the police.

A House of Commons spokesperson said parliamentary authorities’ priority was to ensure business can continue while ensuring the Palace of Westminster and connected buildings are safe.

They said: “An MP has confirmed that they have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

“The House’s priority is to ensure that those on the estate are safe while business is facilitated.

“We have closely followed public health guidance on the action to take following a confirmed case of Covid on site.

“Parliament has a dedicated team to support the test and trace teams across the UK, acting as a central point of contact in the event of any suspected or confirmed cases, where an individual has been working on the estate.”

The SNP’s Blackford said: “I have spoken with Margaret Ferrier this evening who fully accepts that what she did was wrong. Margaret will be referring herself to the parliamentary standards commissioner as well as the police. I am tonight suspending the whip from Margaret.”

Sturgeon welcomed the move and added: “It’s hard to express just how angry I feel on behalf of people across the country making hard sacrifices every day to help beat Covid. The rules apply to everyone and they’re in place to keep people safe.”

But David Linden, the SNP MP for the Glasgow East constituency neighbouring Ferrier’s, called for her to go.

He told BBC Question Time her behaviour is “utterly inexcusable”, adding: “I don’t think her position is tenable and she should resign.”

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross, who resigned from Boris Johnson’s government over Dominic Cummings’ actions during lockdown, said Ferrier “must go, with immediate effect”.

“We are the middle of a pandemic – travelling hundreds of miles on public transport having tested positive for this deadly virus isn’t a mistake, it’s complete disregard for everything we are fighting against,” Mr Ross said.

Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “This is astonishing recklessness from an SNP MP, which has put people’s health at risk.

“Through her irresponsible actions, she very possibly has passed on the virus to a vulnerable person, who may now have Covid-19 and be in danger. She has put passengers, rail staff, fellow MPs, Commons staff and many others at unacceptable risk.

“To breach the rules twice is simply unforgivable, and has undermined all the sacrifices made by her constituents.

“Nicola Sturgeon must come out and condemn her MP’s actions and tell the Scottish people what disciplinary action she will be taking. There cannot be one rule for Margaret Ferrier, another for everybody else.”

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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