Keir Starmer steps up calls for Margaret Ferrier to quit as MP

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will today step up calls for Margaret Ferrier to quit as an MP during a virtual public meeting in her Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits Burnside Pharmacy in Rutherglen alongside Margaret Ferrier

Ms Ferrier was stripped of the SNP whip after it emerged last week that she undertook an 800-mile round journey to Westminster with Covid 19. It emerged yesterday that she spoke at a church service a week back on Sunday after having been tested for the virus.

But despite Nicola Sturgeon leading calls for her to quit as an MP, Ms Ferrier has yet to do so.

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Local residents will have the opportunity to share their view on the incident with the Labour leader, as well as ask questions on other issues such as the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic during the meeting.

It is less than a year since Ms Ferrier won the constituency from Labour's Ged Killen and it will be a key target seat in Scotland for Mr Starmer as he seeks to rebuild the party's fortunes north of the Border.

Ahead of today's meeting, he said: "After admitting to multiple serious breaches of the coronavirus regulations, it beggars belief that Margaret Ferrier thinks it is appropriate to continue as an MP. This is a gross error of judgement.

"I want to speak directly to local residents about this scandal, to those locally who are feeling angry and frustrated about the situation.

"I also want to hear how the community is coping with coronavirus, how they feel the UK and Scottish governments have handled the pandemic, and what the Labour Party needs to do to rebuild trust among those voters we have lost.”

The UK party leader will take questions directly from members of the public in South Lanarkshire today.

It is one in a series of virtual meetings led by Mr Starmer in every region and nation of the UK, as well as a series of topical meetings, including a call last week with first-year university students and their parents.

Ms Ferrier had the SNP whip withdrawn on Friday after her Covid journey came to light.

She had travelled to London a week back on Monday after having been tested for the virus after developing symptoms. When her test came through positive, she then returned home on a train the following day, claiming this was down to a family illness.

Asked if Ms Ferrier should be expelled from the SNP over the revelations that she'd visited a church to give a reading while symptomatic, Ms Sturgeon said: "I've made my views on Margaret Ferrier very clear and I've nothing to add today that would potentially compromise the due process of the party.

"If I was to say what the outcome of that should be before consideration happens, that wouldn't be in anyone's interest and I'm not going to do it."

Ms Ferrier has apologised and said she "deeply regretted" her actions, but has not yet given any indication of whether or not she intends to continue sitting as an independent MP.

She has referred herself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, as well as to the police.

Ms Sturgeon has described Ms Ferrier's decision to travel to and from London when she should have been self-isolating as the "worst breach imaginable”.

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