Sir Keir Starmer: Margaret Ferrier should resign after 'jaw dropping' behaviour

12 October 2020, 08:26 | Updated: 12 October 2020, 16:03

Sir Keir Starmer has told LBC Margaret Ferrier should resign as an MP after her "jaw dropping" behaviour in which she travelled hundreds of miles knowing she had coronavirus.

Speaking with LBC's Nick Ferrari on Call Keir, the Labour leader said: "She should go and everybody knows it.

"I did a virtual event in her constituency last week, and her constituents and those that live there are livid, they're furious and they're embarrassed that their MP has done this.

"Jaw dropping is a phrase politicians use too much, but I have to say, as each bit of what she had done had came out my jaw was on the ground.

"You get the symptoms and then you get the train to London, you speak in a debate, you get a positive test and then you get a train back to Scotland. She should just resign".

The former SNP MP has said she will not resign despite backlash over her journeys between Glasgow and Westminster with Covid-19 symptoms and then having tested positive for the virus.

Ms Ferrier told the Scottish Sun that having the infection caused her to "act out of character" and she "panicked" before taking the 350-mile trip by train back to Scotland.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has also repeated her call for Ferrier to quit for repeatedly breaching coronavirus rules by travelling after developing symptoms.

The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, who was suspended by the SNP and had the party whip withdrawn over the saga, said she had no intention of standing down.

Margaret is still resisting calls to quit after admitting to breaking Covid rules
Margaret is still resisting calls to quit after admitting to breaking Covid rules. Picture: PA

She told the paper: "This has been an awful experience but I'll keep fighting for my constituents because that's who I am."

But speaking on Sky News' Sophie Ridge On Sunday show, Ms Sturgeon said the breach was "unacceptable" and Ms Ferrier should resign as an MP.

The Scottish First Minister said: "I couldn't be clearer, she should step down from Parliament.

Read more: Margaret Ferrier says 700-mile train journey with Covid-19 was a 'blip'

"The lapse of judgment in travelling hundreds of miles knowing she had tested positive for Covid-19 was so significant and so unacceptable that I don't think there is any other acceptable course of action for her.

"I've read her comments in the media today but I still hope she will do the right thing.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has repeated her call for Ferrier to quit for repeatedly breaching coronavirus rules by travelling after developing symptoms
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has repeated her call for Ferrier to quit for repeatedly breaching coronavirus rules by travelling after developing symptoms. Picture: PA

"Every day, I have to stand and ask people across the country to do horrendously difficult things, to not visit their loved ones, and right now I'm asking people to understand why they can't go to a pub or a restaurant.

"And it is unacceptable that somebody in her position flagrantly disregarded the rules like that and I cannot be clearer about that.

"It is not acceptable and she should resign."

Ms Ferrier, 60, said she has received support locally after the incident and has "owned up and apologised profusely".

She also spoke out about the level of criticism she has received over the incident, adding: "You feel you are getting a lot of criticism from people you thought were your colleagues or friends who'd understand it was an error of judgment. I'm not denying that.

"People may be saying, 'You should have known better, you're a public figure'. But at the end of the day it still hurts.

"You then think about all that hard work and dedication - is that just wiped away?"

Commenting on Ms Ferrier's refusal to resign, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "Margaret Ferrier's comments show she has learned nothing.

"She is refusing to face up to her reckless, selfish and dangerous behaviour.

"Her intention to cling on until the next election is treating her constituents with contempt.

"Providing that she is suspended from the Commons for more than 10 sitting days, I have no doubt that a recall petition would gather more than enough support to trigger a by-election.

"Margaret Ferrier should save them the trouble, rethink her arrogant stance, and resign."

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: "Margaret Ferrier has again shown a stunning lack of self-awareness.

"There is no defence for her actions.

"She put people at risk and undermined the vital public health message when cases are rising and more people are dying from this awful virus.

"Margaret Ferrier's excuses are mortifying and shameless.

"She clearly values her own salary more than doing the right thing.

"She cannot continue as an MP and it's amazing that she's still a member of the SNP."

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