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David Linden, the SNP MP for the Glasgow East constituency neighbouring Margaret Ferrier’s, has called for her to go. He told BBC Question Time her behaviour is “utterly inexcusable”, adding he is “furious” at his colleague. “I’ve got to say I’m pretty furious for the behaviour of Margaret Ferrier,” he said. Adding: “I don’t think her position is tenable and she should resign.”
The SNP is facing demands for answers after Ms Ferrier admitted to breaking self-isolation rules by travelling to Parliament after developing coronavirus symptoms and then taking a train back to Scotland having tested positive.
Labour suggested the party covered up knowledge of Margaret Ferrier’s actions after it emerged they knew of her diagnosis a day before she disclosed it on Thursday evening.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon condemned the MP’s “utterly indefensible” behaviour and welcomed her having the whip suspended, but there were calls for Ms Ferrier’s resignation including from within the party.
The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP said she took a test on Saturday afternoon after experiencing “mild symptoms”, meaning she should have self-isolated, before travelling by train to London on Monday having felt better.
She spoke in the coronavirus debate in the House of Commons on Monday and, by her account, tested positive for Covid-19 that evening. She did not make clear whether she received the result before or after she spoke.
In a statement, she said she travelled home to Glasgow on Tuesday, where she has been self-isolating ever since.
Police Scotland said the MP informed them of her behaviour on Thursday and officers are “looking into the circumstances” along with the Metropolitan Police.
The Commons said she did not inform her party whip until Wednesday afternoon and that one person was identified as a close contact and told to self-isolate.
Ms Ferrier could face a £4,000 fine for a first-time offence of coming into contact with others when she should have been self-isolating under a law that came into force on the day of her positive test.
“Despite feeling well, I should have self-isolated while waiting for my test result, and I deeply regret my actions,” she said.
The SNP gained the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat from Labour in the 2019 general election, when Ms Ferrier won with a majority of 5,230.
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, said he was suspending the whip from Ms Ferrier.
Ms 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.”
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Mr Linden’s comments have since been echoed by Kirsty Blackman, SNP MP for Aberdeen North, and Stephen Flynn, SNP MP for Aberdeen South.
Ms Blackman said that while Ms Ferrier is an “unparalleled” campaigner for the party, she must resign.
“Margaret’s actions cannot be overlooked,” she added in a tweet.
Mr Flynn retweeted Ms Blackman’s post, writing: “Impossible to disagree. The public will expect nothing less.”
Mr Blackford has also called on his colleague to resign in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today.
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