'Her position is untenable' - SNP MP comes under fire for bringing coronavirus to Commons

2 October 2020, 13:29 | Updated: 2 October 2020, 13:30

By Sam Sholli

A former House of Commons clerk has told LBC that SNP MP Margaret Ferrier's position is "untenable", after she participated in a parliamentary debate despite having coronavirus.

Ms Ferrier said she took a test on Saturday afternoon after experiencing "mild symptoms" - at which point she should have gone into self-isolation.

However, she then travelled to London on Monday to debate the Covid-19 response in Parliament. The MP then received a positive test later that evening and travelled home by train the following day.

When asked by LBC's Nick Ferrari if she could continue in her role, former Commons clerk Eliot Wilson said: "I can't really see how she can do so, certainly with any honour but also with any credibility.

"The SNP have suspended the whip, which is all very well. But 'suspend' implies that they're waiting for the outcome. It's very clear that she's broken the regulations on a number of occasions. She can't go back and undo that.

"She's also not really able to provide an explanation of why she did it, except I suspect that she just thought it would somehow be alright. So I think her position is untenable."

On Thursday evening, the Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP apologised for breaching the rules and admitted there was "no excuse" for her actions after revealing her journey while infected with coronavirus.

The MP has apologised and been suspended by her party. Meanwhile, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called Ms Ferrier's actions "utterly indefensible".

Asked by Nick what will be going on in the Commons as a result of what Ms Ferrier did, Mr Wilson said: "I think there will be a degree of alarm to say the least because obviously Ms Ferrier will have come into contact with not only all of the MPs who have been at Westminster this week but also all the officials.

"That's an obvious breeding ground for this kind of virus and it's an extraordinary decision that she made to come down to Westminster at the beginning of the week, I think."

The former Commons clerk also told Nick: "The idea she could have been in some ways protecting people from this is absurd. She will have been effectively trailing a virus behind her everywhere she went. That will have potentially put a great number of people at risk."

Ms Ferrier has in the past criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings for his conduct during the pandemic.

Speaking during Cabinet Office questions on 11 June, she told the Commons: "Public health experts have voiced concerns that Dominic Cummings did undermine public trust in lockdown rules, going against the principle of integrity that is in the code of conduct.

"Will the Cabinet Office conduct an investigation into potential breaches of the code of conduct by Mr Cummings, or have ministers yet again decided that they have had enough of experts?"