Margaret Ferrier, SNP MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, has been suspended by her party after she traveled to London, from her constituency whilst waiting for the results of a Coronavirus test.
After arriving in London, her test was returned positive. Instead of self-isolating in her London residence, she again flouted the rules and traveled back to Scotland the following day.
Ferrier spoke in Parliament on Monday during the Coronavirus debate in the House of Commons, where she would have potentially acted as a “superspreader”, infecting MPs who regularly travel throughout the country from their home constituencies to Parliament in London.
On both occasions, Ferrier traveled via train and in response, Drivers’ union ASLEF said “We’ve worked day in, day out to keep our railway as safe as possible for passengers and staff. For an MP to get on a train knowing she has Covid-19 is both dangerous and disgraceful”. Public transport unions have repeatedly called for stricter measures to avoid the potential spread of the Virus, this will likely make their job that little bit harder to enforce the existing rules.
Breaking the rules once is bad enough, but breaking them twice, as Ferrier did, and travelling via public transport whilst testing positive for the Virus is unforgivable. Particularly, as both the UK and Scottish Governments look to implement tighter restrictions in the coming weeks to curb the spread of the Virus. Ferrier’s actions only reinforce the narrative that it is one rule for the elite, and another for us. In this sense, she is the same as Cummings’, whom Ferrier was quick to attack when he so flagrantly broke the rules in May.
Echoing this, SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her actions were “utterly indefensible”, and said “The rules apply to everyone and they’re in place to keep people safe”. Sturgeon will be all to aware of the pressure this puts on her as she announced today that a further 668 people had tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, over 10% of those who had been newly tested.
The Scottish Government are also looking at a potential “Circuit Breaker” lockdown to be implemented in the coming weeks, likely during the October school holidays, with pubs and restaurants possibly having to close and tighter travel restrictions being introduced.
The SNP have removed the whip from Ferrier, but she has yet to resign as an MP despite calls from all sides.