By-election to go ahead in Margaret Ferrier’s seat as constituents recall MP

It came after she broke Covid rules in 2020 by travelling while knowing she was positive with the virus.

A petition to recall Covid rule-breaking MP Margaret Ferrier has passed the required number of signatures in her Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency.

A total of 11,896 voters validly signed Scotland’s first recall petition.

It means a by-election can now take place in the seat, near Glasgow, though a date is yet to be determined.

Any contest will be keenly fought by Labour and the SNP.

Voting in the recall petition closed on Monday after six weeks.

South Lanarkshire Council administered the petition and tweeted: “Result of the petition to remove Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier.

“Petition successful. Total electorate 81,123. Number of electors who validly signed the petition 11,896. Percentage of electors who validly signed the petition 14.66%. 37 returns were rejected.”

In June, Ms Ferrier was suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days, beginning the recall petition process.

She travelled from Scotland to Westminster after testing for Covid in September 2020 and went on to speak in the House of Commons while awaiting the results.

After the test confirmed she was positive for the virus, she took the train back to Scotland.

Originally elected as an SNP MP, she had the whip removed when her Covid rule-breaking came to light.

In September last year she was handed a 270-hour community payback order after admitting culpably and recklessly exposing the public “to the risk of infection, illness and death”.

The 62-year-old has resisted calls to resign from her seat and urged her constituents not to sign the petition.

First Minister and SNP leader Humza Yousaf has said the circumstances in Rutherglen and Hamilton West are “challenging” for his party, but it nevertheless has “solid support”.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie said her party is confident of a victory in a by-election, saying a defeat would lead to deep “soul searching”.

She described the seat as an “important milestone” towards Labour’s aim of forming a majority government in the general election.

In 2019, Ms Ferrier won the constituency with a majority of 5,230, taking 44.2% of the vote.

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