MP Margaret Ferrier has insisted she will not resign despite backlash for travelling to parliament after developing coronavirus symptoms, saying the virus made her act “out of character”.
Ms Ferrier, previously an SNP MP, admitted to travelling to London from Glasgow after taking a coronavirus test last month, and said once she had received a positive result, took the train back to her Scottish constituency – a breach of coronavirus rules in Scotland and England.
Speaking to Sophy Ridge On Sunday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reiterated her call for Ms Ferrier to step down, saying the MP’s “lapse of judgement” was “so significant and so unacceptable” after “flagrantly” disobeying the rules.
But Ms Ferrier told the Scottish Sun she had no intention of standing down from her position of MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, despite pressure from the SNP party leadership.
She said: “This has been an awful experience, but I’ll keep fighting for my constituents because that’s who I am.”
Ms Ferrier said she had “owned up and apologised profusely” and the reason she travelled to Westminster despite developing coronavirus symptoms was because she wanted to “represent her constituents” and take part in a debate in parliament, which she could not do virtually.
“I was fine on Saturday morning. Later on in the afternoon I had a tickly throat,” she told the paper.
“I went for the test that evening. And when I woke up at home the next day I had no symptoms.
“I think that’s why I was so shocked and panicked on Monday night when I got my result and thought, ‘how has this happened because I don’t feel unwell?
“Over the last six months the regulations and guidelines have changed and been so muddled.”
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“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 judgement. I’m not denying that,” she added.
“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?
“I felt well when I got up on Monday morning. If I’d in any way felt any symptoms I would not have travelled, obviously.
“I was going to London because I was wanting to represent my constituents, take part in a debate. That was my reasoning.
“I was being diligent. We don’t have a full virtual parliament.”
Ms Ferrier does not have a property in London, and instead stays in a hotel close to Westminster, and explained she was concerned she would have to isolate there for two weeks, prompting the trip back to Glasgow.
“There were no other people next to me in the carriage and I wore a mask the whole way back,” she said, adding: “A lot of people say COVID makes you do things out of character. You are not thinking straight. I’m not making an excuse.
“At that moment when I thought it would come back negative and it was positive I was utterly shocked. You could have knocked me over.”
However, Ms Sturgeon told Sophy Ridge On Sunday she maintained her stance on the issue.
“I cannot be clearer: She [Ms Ferrier] should step down from parliament,” she said.
“The lapse of judgement in travelling hundreds of miles, knowing she had tested positive for COVID was so significant and so unacceptable that I’d have to say I don’t think there is any other acceptable course of action for her.
“I hope she will do the right thing.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has also called for Ms Ferrier to resign and removed the party whip from her.
Last week, Metropolitan Police said it was investigating Ms Ferrier.
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