COVID rule-breaker MP pleads with constituents not to trigger by-election

Disgraced Scottish MP Margaret Ferrier has urged her constituents not to trigger a by-election in a last-ditch attempt to avoid losing her job.

The former SNP MP, who is now an independent, was convicted of putting people at risk after travelling by train to a debate at Westminster while suffering from coronavirus in 2020.

She was later charged by police and ordered to undertake 270 hours of unpaid work after admitting culpably and recklessly exposing the public “to the risk of infection, illness and death” as a result of her behaviour.

She has repeatedly refused to resign.

The Commons Standards Committee suspended her for 30 days, which automatically triggers a process known as a “recall petition”.

Ms Ferrier faces the risk of being removed from her seat if 10% of voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West sign the document at special signing stations from today until 30 July.

It requires 8,100 signatures from an electorate of nearly 81,000.

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‘Do not sign the petition paper’

The disgraced politician made a rare public statement ahead of this process beginning.

Writing on her website, Ms Ferrier urged voters not to sign the petition.

She said: “While parties have already spent months arguing about their candidates for a by-election that has not even been confirmed, they have disregarded the very real issues faced by many in our community.

“That is why so many constituents have expressed to me that they do not want a by-election.”

She continued: “If you wish to see me continue as your MP, then do not sign the petition paper.”

Ms Ferrier, who won the constituency for the SNP in 2019, had the party whip removed in 2020 after the allegations emerged and has since sat in the Commons as an independent.

Both Scottish Labour and the SNP have got their eye on Ms Ferrier’s seat. A recent poll put the parties neck and neck at the next general election in Scotland.

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Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said constituents were “furious” that the issue had dragged on for so long and suggested his party would bring change.

The possibility of a by-election means the stakes are high.

It would be the first big electoral test for new First Minister Humza Yousaf amid the ongoing SNP police investigation crisis.

Pressure would also mount on Labour to clinch a victory as many commentators suggest Scotland is key to Sir Keir Starmer becoming the next prime minister.

It is unclear whether Ms Ferrier would stand if voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West decide to go back to the polls this autumn.