There is continued pressure on the Rutherglen MP Margaret Ferrier to stand down from Parliament.
She has faced criticism across the political spectrum – and her now former party is insisting she has to quit parliament – for breaking coronavirus restrictions.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford told the Telegraph she should do the “honourable thing”.
Nicola Sturgeon repeated her call for Ms Ferrier to quit – and in an unfortunate slip of the tongue referred to her as “Margaret Covid”.
However the former SNP MP George Kerevan has offered a limited defence.
Although he said her actions were wrong, he wrote: “I feel deeply for Margaret and find much of the virtue signalling and rush to consign her to political outer darkness both hypocritical and blatantly self-serving. Margaret Ferrier, in my experience, always put the job before her personal convenience.”
Is she going to?
I’ve spoken to several people who know Ms Ferrier and there doesn’t seem to be a definite answer.
The BBC has tried to contact Ms Ferrier and her office repeatedly without success.
Several people we have contacted in the party have not spoken to her since last week.
Ms Ferrier has said nothing publicly since she issued a statement on Thursday revealing she had travelled from Scotland to London after showing symptoms, then back again after getting a positive test result.
It seems she may still be deciding what to do – or keeping it to herself.
It’s worth remembering Ms Ferrier has coronavirus – and we don’t know for sure how ill she is.
So what now?
Many of her former SNP colleagues and her political opponents are discussing how they could force her out if she refuses to stand down.
Senior figures in the SNP have suggested she is likely to face a recall procedure – which could see her forced out of office.
There are three ways that process begins:
- If an MP is convicted of a crime and imprisoned
- If an MP is suspended from the Commons for ten sitting days
- If an MP is convicted of misleading expenses claims
Police are currently investigating the case and it has been referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate.
However, both of those processes could be lengthy. The stated penalty for breaking self-isolation rules in England is a fine – although under the MP’s Code of Conduct MPs are expected to “uphold the law”.
If any of the conditions are met, a petition would be opened in Ms Ferrier’s constituency.
If 10% of registered voters signed it within six weeks then a by-election would be called.
The process has been used three times since it was created.
Two MPs have been successfully recalled – former Labour MP Fiona Onasanya and former Tory MP Chris Davies. In the case of the DUP’s Ian Paisley Jnr, a petition was launched but the 10 per cent threshold was not met and he remains an MP.