Tory MPs calling for Margaret Ferrier’s resignation for breaking coronavirus rules have been branded “shameless” after they failed to do the same for Dominic Cummings.
Ferrier has apologised “unreservedly” after travelling to the House of Commons with symptoms, taking part in a debate, and making a train journey back to Scotland after testing positive for COVID-19.
The actions of the SNP MP, who has been suspended by the party, have been described as “utterly indefensible” by Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Sturgeon said she has made it “crystal clear” to Ferrier she should quit as an MP.
Ferrier is facing further calls to resign from opponents and SNP politicians and could face a £4,000 fine for a first-time offence of coming into contact with others when she should have been self-isolating.
Tory MPs have themselves come under fire from critics accusing them of hypocrisy after calling for Ferrier’s resignation, but failing to demand the same when Boris Johnson’s special advisor Cummings broke coronavirus rules earlier this year.
Seeing Tory MPs tweeting about Margaret Ferrier when they built a fortress around Cummings is laughable! Pure comedy.
— Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (@DrRosena) October 1, 2020
There must be nothing less than a resignation
To all the Tory MPs who are calling for it but threw a ring of steel around Cummings, you have no credibility nor shame https://t.co/SOCYWFMAhg
— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) October 1, 2020
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour MP for Tooting, said: “Seeing Tory MPs tweeting about Margaret Ferrier when they built a fortress around Cummings is laughable! Pure comedy.”
Former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal added: “There must be nothing less than a resignation To all the Tory MPs who are calling for it but threw a ring of steel around Cummings, you have no credibility nor shame.”
Questioned about the different response to Ferrier and Cummings on Sky News on Friday, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Well Dominic Cummings made a statement after the events that he was involved in.
“He denies that he broke the rules and as you know he Prime Minister accepted his answers and he answered questions from the press at the time.”
He added: “I’m not here to discuss individual cases or to defend the way that particular individuals have behaved.”
Speaking to Times Radio, Jenrick refused to comment on whether he regretted supporting Dominic Cummings when he travelled to Durham with COVID-19 symptoms, saying only: “I’m not in the business of speaking about individual cases.”
Robert jenrick ties himself up in knots over Margaret Ferrier.#KayBurley - Dominic Cummings didn't abide by the rules
Robert Jenrick - But... but... but... he denied breaking the rules & the PM accepted that pic.twitter.com/zO045W8M02
— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) October 2, 2020
Fellow SNP members have also called for Ferrier’s resignation.
David Linden, the SNP MP for the Glasgow East constituency neighbouring Ferrier’s, told BBC Question Time her behaviour was “utterly inexcusable”, adding: “I don’t think her position is tenable and she should resign.”
Kirsty Blackman, SNP MP for Aberdeen North, tweeted: “Margaret Ferrier must resign”, adding: “Margaret’s actions cannot be overlooked.”
Stephen Flynn, SNP MP for Aberdeen South, retweeted Ms Blackman’s tweet, writing: “Impossible to disagree. The public will expect nothing less.”
Ferrier had been vigorously critical of Cummings’ breaking of coronavirus rules.
The SNP itself was also facing criticism on Friday after it was suggested that the party knew of Ferrier’s diagnosis a day before she revealed it publicly on Thursday evening.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who resigned from Johnson’s government over Cummings’ lockdown movements, said “the public deserve clear answers”.
“We now know that the SNP were informed on Wednesday that Margaret Ferrier had been tested, after she had already travelled back to Scotland from London by public transport while infected with the virus,” he said.
“These actions not only broke the law, they will have put lives at risk.
“We must hear from Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford about exactly when they knew and why they kept this information secret from the public for hours or maybe even days.”
An SNP spokeswoman insisted the party did not know until Thursday that Ms Ferrier had taken a test prior to travelling to London.
“Ms Ferrier informed the SNP on Wednesday, when she was in Glasgow, that she had tested positive,” she said.
“The SNP’s chief whip immediately informed Parliament authorities. The SNP only became aware on Thursday that Ms Ferrier had been tested prior to travelling to London and had travelled back to Glasgow, knowing that she had a positive result.”
Coronavirus: what happened today
Watch: People in England face £10,000 fines for not self-isolating