MP Margaret Ferrier suspended over lockdown breach — but some Tories try to save her skin

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LONDON — MPs voted Tuesday to suspend former Scottish National Party representative Margaret Ferrier from parliament after she breached the U.K.’s lockdown at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. But the embattled MP had some unlikely defendants.

Ferrier has already been kicked out of the SNP and sentenced to 270 hours of community service for the 2020 rule breach. She traveled from parliament in London to her home in Glasgow on a train even after learning she had tested positive for the virus.

The 30-day suspension was recommend by the Commons’ standards committee, which polices MP behavior — and 185 MPs voted to endorse its recommendations on Tuesday.

But, in a curious twist, 40 MPs — the vast majority from the governing Conservatives — voted against the suspension.

Some Tory MPs are known to be uneasy about the recommended suspension because former Prime Minister Boris Johnson is locked in his own fight with the Commons privileges committee as it investigates whether he misled parliament over the “Partygate” affair. They fear setting a precedent when that committee — which can also trigger a Commons vote on a suspension — rules on Johnson’s fate.

The latest move takes Ferrier one step closer to facing the wrath of local voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, a seat she grabbed from the Scottish Labour Party in 2019. Labour has high hopes of retaking it.

Under Commons’ rules, if an MP is suspended for 10 days or more from a parliament a ‘recall petition’ can take place in their constituency. If that petition is signed by more than 10 percent of eligible voters in the constituency, a by-election will be called in the seat.

Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle will now trigger the petition process in Ferrier’s seat. It will remain open for six weeks.