MP Margaret Ferrier has lost her appeal to have her Commons suspension overturned, meaning a by-election in her constituency now looks likely. 

The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP broke covid rules in 2020 by travelling on a train from London to Scotland having tested positive.

A standards watchdog eventually recommended she be banned from the Commons for 30 days – a punishment Ferrier has failed to have overturned.

So, what happens now and how is a by-election triggered?

What is recall?

Essentially, this is the process by which constituents can remove their MP outwith the normal election period.  

In order for this to happen, one of three requirements must be met:

  • An MP is imprisoned following a conviction (although anything over 12 months leads to automatic removal).
  • An MP is suspended from the House for more than 10 sitting days or 14 non-sitting days.
  • An MP makes false or misleading allowance claims.

What is a recall petition?

If one of the above conditions is met, the Speaker must notify the local returning officer and this subsequently leads to the opening of a recall petition.

Constituents have six weeks to sign this and should 10% of registered voters do so, a by-election is called.

Could Ferrier still contest her seat?

Yes, the sitting MP is still able to contest in the by-election.

Over the past four General Elections, the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat has swung between the SNP and Labour Co-Op candidates.

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In the 2017 election, Gerard Killen was elected after defeating Ferrier by 19,101 votes to 18,836.

Ferrier then retained her seat in 2019 by a more comfortable margin of 23,775 votes to Killen’s 18,545.