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Margaret Ferrier suspended from House of Commons after Covid rules breach

The Commons voted 185 to 40, majority 145, to approve the motion to suspend the independent MP.

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Margaret Ferrier has been suspended (Jane Barlow/PA)

Margaret Ferrier has been suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days for breaching coronavirus rules.

The Commons voted 185 to 40, majority 145, to approve the motion to suspend the independent MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

Ms Ferrier, a former SNP MP, was in the Commons chamber as MPs approved her suspension.

She could now face a by-election after breaching Covid rules in 2020 by travelling by train from Scotland to England while positive for the virus.

Any MP who misses 10 sitting days due to suspension is at risk of a by-election – but 10% of voters in their constituency must sign a recall petition.

Margaret Ferrier  (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)
Margaret Ferrier has been suspended (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)

Labour hopes to win the constituency if such a by-election were to take place, in an effort to demonstrate it can make gains in Scotland at the next general election.

Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer joined Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar on the campaign trail in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire at the end of May.

At the time, Sir Keir said he was in “no doubt” that people will take the chance to get rid of Ms Ferrier if a by-election is held.

Scottish Labour candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West Michael Shanks said “This is welcome news for those of us who live here, but it is a disgrace that Margaret Ferrier has dragged this process out for so long, leaving her constituents unrepresented in Parliament.

“We’ve spoken to thousands of voters who feel let down by Margaret Ferrier’s actions – people who made sacrifices during the pandemic and rightly expected their MP to do the same.

“The people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West deserve so much better than a rule-breaking MP.

“I want to be the local champion this area deserves, and I am ready to fight for every vote and deliver the change Rutherglen and Hamilton West needs.”

The SNP also called for a by-election in the constituency.

The party’s by-election campaign co-ordinator David Linden MP said: “There must now be a by-election, which the SNP has been calling for since Ms Ferrier’s Covid rule-breach first came to light in 2020.

“People in Rutherglen and Hamilton West are paying an unacceptable price for the damaging policies of the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party, as the cost of living soars.

“The SNP is the only party offering a real alternative. We will put the cost of living, NHS and independence at the heart of our campaign – and we’ll work hard for every vote to ensure the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West can elect a strong SNP MP to stand up for them.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “I welcome today’s news because it’s important that we all take responsibility for the decisions we make, especially where public safety is involved.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats are unequivocally in favour of a recall petition and a by-election.

“Not only is this a chance to give Rutherglen and Hamilton West the representation it deserves, it is also a chance to send a message to the new SNP First Minister that people are sick of the divisive and out of touch politics he and his party represent.”

Ms Ferrier was accompanied in the Commons Chamber by Conservative former minister Andrew Selous and SNP MP Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West).

At one point, Daniel Kawczynski, the Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, was seen walking to the opposition benches to shake her hand.

The Commons voting list showed 32 Conservative MPs among those who had voted to reject the suspension vote in support of Ms Ferrier.

They included Mr Kawczynski, former ministers David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Tory grandees Sir Bill Cash and Sir Edward Leigh.

Former Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who now represents the Reclaim Party, also voted to reject the motion, as did Alba Party MPs Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill, and the DUP MPs Gregory Campbell and Gavin Robinson.

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