A by-election is set to take place in the constituency of an MP who faced consequences for breaking COVID rules. Margaret Ferrier, the MP in question, traveled by train despite being aware that she had coronavirus in 2020. As a result, she will not be standing in the upcoming contest. Her parliamentary seat in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency in Scotland was lost following a successful recall petition.
In 2021, Margaret Ferrier faced charges by the police and was ordered to undertake 270 hours of unpaid work. This came after she admitted culpably and recklessly exposing the public to the risk of infection, illness, and death due to her behaviour. The suspension from the Commons for 30 days was triggered by this incident, leading to the recall petition.
In a statement, Ms. Ferrier expressed respect for the outcome of the petition. She stated that serving as the member of parliament for Rutherglen and Hamilton West had been the privilege of her life. Although she had always put her job and constituents first, she was disappointed that her time in office was coming to an end. She had already decided not to stand in the upcoming by-election, considering the difficult and taxing process that had now concluded.
The recall petition, signed by more than 10% of the constituency’s electorate, opened on 20 June and closed on Monday at 5 pm. Out of the 81,123 electorates, 11,896 (14.66%) people signed the petition, and 37 returns were rejected. While three other MPs previously faced recall petitions, this was the first one in Scotland since the procedure was introduced in 2015.
Ms. Ferrier won the seat for the SNP in the 2019 general election but later had to sit as an independent after losing the party whip due to her COVID breach. Both Scottish Labour and the SNP are eyeing the seat, with Labour planning to put forward teacher Michael Shanks as their candidate, and SNP fielding Katy Loudon.
The Scottish Conservatives are also determined to compete for the seat, with Glasgow councillor Thomas Kerr as their chosen candidate. MSP Meghan Gallacher, depute leader of the Scottish Tories, criticized Ferrier’s actions, calling them reckless and selfish, and expressed the need for this by-election.